Two-time Olympian Sarah Cook says Rowing Australia needs to be "ambitious and innovative" to take advantage of a golden decade opportunity as she prepares to make history in the sport she loves.
Cook is poised to become the first female chief executive in Rowing Australia's history when she's officially announced as the new boss on Friday.
It also coincides with a game-changing opportunity that includes the Commonwealth Games in Victoria in 2026, with rowing to make its return for the first time since 1986, and the Brisbane Olympic Games in 2032.
"We've got a pipeline of athletes coming through who want to support in the under-19s and under-21s team with that view to the Los Angeles [Olympics] and Brisbane," Cook said.
"There are challenges in an increasingly difficult and competitive landscape [for sports], but there are also opportunities and that's what I'm excited about.
"All of a sudden rowing is really diversifying and seeing opportunities not just on flat water and the rich history and tradition there as an Olympic sport, but also new and exciting disciplines of indoor rowing and coastal rowing to broaden our base.
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"The clock is already ticking for Brisbane. It's nine years now, but it gave us a chance to look outside the four-year cycle. We're going to be ambitious and innovative, and future focused, to think about where we'll be in 10 years time.
"Australian rowing has never won an Olympic or Paralympic gold medal on home soil. That's a massive opportunity ... what a goal to have."
Cook, a Canberra junior, has been the Rowing Australia chief operating officer for the past two years and has been in charge of leading the organisation's strategic plan.
The 38-year-old has also been a part of the AIS athlete accelerate program, which was implemented to support female athletes into a sporting administration career.
The Australian Sports Commission is also aiming to have male-female coaching parity on Australian teams at the Brisbane Olympics. Just 18 per cent of Australia's Olympic team coaches were female in 2021.
"Our sport has come a long way since 2017," Cook said.
"When we established the men's and women's training centres, the men and women have been equally funded. We have 25 women in the centre at Penrith and 25 men down here in Canberra and we pay our athletes equally.
"We've been racing at a national and interstate level in women's events for more than a century. I'm incredibly proud to be the first female chief executive, and grateful to the Rowing Australia board and the outgoing chief executive Ian Robson. They've been my biggest champions.
"They've brought me to the table, helped me develop and I'm grateful for their support.
"I've done almost every level of the sport, I think the only thing I haven't done is be a boat race official. So I'm excited to work with the stakeholders and leverage our collective resources to be the best we can be.
"It's time time we pull together, galvanise and focus on this 10-year horizon."
Cook won World Cup gold in 2007 and finished her career with a bag of medals before retiring from international rowing after the London Olympics. She went on to become an Australian representative in sailing before moving into coaching and administration.
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