At 5’4” and 120 lbs, Brian Price is a fair bit smaller than his teammates on the National Men’s 8 Rowing team, but he has the experience, and passion, to make up for it. Price has been the coxswain on the National team since 2001, and London will be his third Olympics. “As the veteran team member, I’m always trying to be aware of how the team is feeling and reacting,” he says. “I try to give them more positive feedback.”
Keeping a positive attitude is something that comes naturally to Price. Diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of seven, his childhood was marred by five years of chemotherapy that stunted his growth. His battle against cancer was soon over, but his small stature left him unable to play sports like football or basketball. Always the optimist, Price now insists, “Without having had cancer I would never have become a three-time World Champion and Olympic Champion.”
In the same way that Michael Phelps’s body shape seems to be perfectly designed for a swimmer, Price’s small size and light weight made him the ideal coxswain. After watching the Canadian Men’s 8 Rowing Team win Gold at the 1992 Games, Price began rowing nearby his hometown Belleville, at the Quinte Rowing Club.
As coxswain, Price steers the boat, motivates the team and executes the plan – and the plan is always to win gold. The rowers pull the boat with the backs to the bow, but Price sits looking ahead, navigating the course. It’s a pivotal role in the sport; he must determine a strategy and lead the rowers through it during the race. Hooked up to a microphone and speakers in the boat, Price leads a crew of eight who each weigh twice as much as him. He’s proof that size is less important than passion for the sport. The strength of the rowers paired with his spirited motivation make for a perfectly balanced crew.
Rowing is a team effort in the truest sense. The men train together for months, and often only race once or twice a year. They look to each other to stay positive and inspired during long training sessions. “I get so motivated by our own crew”, Price says. “After long training days, they come down to the boat and are so tired. Yet they always put on a great performance.” As the coxswain, Price has to motivate the rowers, but to motivate himself, he looks back to the crew’s hard work and dedication. He often says to himself, “These are the kind of guys I want to race with and these are the kind of guys I want to compete with.”
They are also the guys he likes to win with. In Beijing, the Canada’s Men’s 8 won gold and they aim to defend the medal in London. Though there are only 2 rowers from the Beijing crew competing this year, Price has complete faith in the group. “They’re competitive individuals and they don’t like to lose. It’s just their nature and if they weren’t like that, they wouldn’t be here.” Having recently broken a world record at the World Rowing Cup, the crew is clearly on the right track to defending the Gold.
Canada’s rowing teams are powerhouses in the sport and Price knows that Canada has hundreds of talented Olympians heading to London. “Sometimes we forget that Canadians are not only really nice people. We are also very competitive and very good on the international stage.”