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Saturday, 20 July, 2002, 22:26 GMT 23:26 UK
Mayer motivated for major test
Cambridge's Sebastian Mayer
Mayer was surprised by the crew's professional attitude
BBC Sport Online's Caroline Cheese speaks to Sebastien Mayer, Cambridge's decorated German international oarsman.

Sebastian Mayer is no stranger to big occasions.

The German international's appearance for Cambridge in Saturday's University Boat Race follows his participation in two World Championships and the Sydney Olympics.

He might therefore be forgiven for viewing the Boat Race as something of a comedown.

But Mayer argues that it in fact presents his greatest challenge yet.

"I look at it in a different way to the Olympics and the World Championships," he said.


For the media coverage and the amount of people who watch, it's on a level with the Olympics
Sebastian Mayer

"Here I had several things to do: to keep up my studies and to learn a new language.

"That has been the hardest thing because I have memorised a stroke and the word for it in German and I have to keep the same movement but with English words."

Not only that but before arriving in England, the 28-year-old had gained all his experience as a sculler and had to adjust to sweep rowing, a change which he modestly dismisses as "not very hard."

His distinguished internatational career has already brought him two World silver medals and a fourth position at the 2000 Olympics, making him one of the most experienced oarsmen ever to compete in the Boat Race.

He admits he was surprised by the professional attitude that is now a feature of the event.

"I didn't expect it to be so professional, after all it is a university crew," he said.

"But the coaching and training has been really intense."

Parental support

That professional attitude has partly arisen from the worldwide attention the race now receives, something which Mayer is all too aware of.

"For the media coverage and the amount of people who watch, it's on a level with the Olympics," he said.

"I mean there are millions who watch it."

Countless more will flock to the banks of the Thames to watch the race live, among them Mayer's parents who are flying over for the occasion.

The Biology student claims his decision to come to Cambridge was motivated by his desire to continue his studies, and only after did he consider the rowing facilities.

The Light Blues will be breathing a sigh of relief that Cambridge's Science department was deemed by Mayer a better prospect than Oxford's.

BBC Sport Online's University Boat Race site

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