Westport native gets back to world champions after injury
Published 12:00 am, Friday, August 18, 2017
Pressure can sometimes be difficult for some people.
The high pressure that come with international competition was nothing new to Harrison Burke, 17, whether domestically and internationally the student at Staples High School was a seasoned veteran.
After a success Junior World Championship in 2016 — complete with a winning a bronze medal in the 4+ coxed four event — Burke was ready to get back to the Junior World Championship this year.
But that was before an injury halted his progression in its tracks.
“I had to get surgery,” Burke said. “It took a while to come back into form. It set me back.”
While the therapy to get back to his top form was difficult — it did not stop Burke from getting back to the Junior World Championships as a member of the USA men’s 8+ crew.
The crew won the silver medal during the championships in Trakai, Lithuania.
“In a larger sense,” he said. “It really made me appreciate the value of hard work and effort. As cliché as that is, rowing is a sport where you reap what you sow. The experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to have are a great reflection of that.”
During the final race, Burke and his crew led the majority of the race, but were beaten in the final push by the German team. Although the competitions at home have a good way of gaging his skills, Burke said international crews are on a different level.
“It’s definitely a humbling experience,” he said. “At domestic regattas, the competition caries significantly...At the world championships, I’m not much different than any other athlete there. Each country bring the best athletes they have to offer.”
For Burke, it was that fire of getting back to compete at the steep level the rest of the world can offer that made fighting back through his injury that much more inspiring.
“It is definitely a motivating factor,” he said. “I find the biggest catalyst in terms of intensity, fire, etc., is the culture. Coming back that is probably the most important thing. Even though the stakes are different, having the guys be super pumped and focused about the training makes it easy to keep that aggression.”
Burke made the trip overseas along with fellow Saugatuck rower and Staples high school student Kelsey McGinley, who finished with a bronze medal as a member of the USA women’s 4+ crew.
While the success continued for Burke, he said the future will be focused on continued growth in and outside of the boat.
“Right now I’m taking a little break from rowing with focus on staying injury free this year,” he said. “I’m hoping to make up for the gains I missed out on last year both on the rowing machine and in the boat while I get back.”