2000 Canadian Sport Awards
ALSO ON SLAM!
Theresa Luke and Emma Robinson - Rowing
Nominated by Rowing Canada AvironMultiple victories were the story of the 1999 season for pairs rowers Theresa Luke and Emma Robinson.
Their success could not have been more unlikely as the season began. In February, at the age of 27, Robinson underwent surgery to remove her cancerous thyroid. Four days later the medical student was back training full time, fitting in appointments with surgeons and radiation treatments. Then Alison Korn, with whom she had won two consecutive world championships, suffered a back injury that ruined her chances of retaining her seat in the boat. Theresa Luke, an experienced rower in large boats, stepped in. She turned out to be an inspired choice.
Overcoming fatigue, self-doubt, and a fear of the cancer and its possible effect on her, Robinson, a native of Winnipeg, joined Luke, from Forest Grove, B.C., to show impressive form with early season World Cup victories at Lucerne and Vienna.
Robinson went into the Pan American Games without a specific finish in mind, preferring her goals to be day-to-day since the diagnosis. "I never felt I was going to die," she said. "I wanted to speak about this. I didn't want people to think the worst, because when you think cancer you think death." Once they were on the Lake Minnedosa course, only their race was on the minds of Robinson and Luke. They overcame a mid-race struggle to finish first, and the gold medal was theirs.
Four weeks later, in St. Catharines, Ont., an elated Robinson and Luke defeated a strong field to stand at the top of the podium at the world championships. The result left the pair "pretty happy" after what Robinson described as "a strange year getting up to this point."
Head coach Al Morrow summed up exactly what the redoubtable Emma Robinson had achieved. "Number one: Winning here is outstanding. Number two: Winning three years in a row is even more outstanding. Number three: To win with a different partner is outstanding, and the fourth is overcoming cancer and the effect it had on her training and psyche."