Rower has sights on 2012 Games

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

Peggy Devos hopes to be climbing more than a few ladders over the next couple of years.

The one she's on now is the Olympic ladder. After being one of the last cuts from the 2008 Olympic rowing team for Beijing, Devos is gearing toward 2012 in London.

She's also looking in the next while to climbing some firefighting ladders. The London resident is hoping to catch on with the London Fire Department.

Yesterday at the national rowing championships on Fanshawe Lake, Devos was burning up the course. She finished second to Isolde Penny in the women's scull but it was a big improvement from her heats the day before.

"The race for me was really great because in the time trial I was fourth and that was disappointing because I was gunning for second or maybe first," the Western graduate said. "I had pretty much the race I wanted to have. I was really fast off the line which is kind of my specialty and then I just tried to hang on from there."

It was a much better day on the course weather-wise than it was on Tuesday when the wind made things extremely difficult.

"The water was really nice compared to yesterday. It was good conditions. The headwind made things a little slower but things were good," Devos said.

Devos has been rowing seriously since 2001. But since 2003, she's wanted to be a firefighter. In the summer of 2008, she attended firefighting school in Vermilion, Alta.

"It was the first chance I had to do it because the school was always in the summer," she said. "Now I'm waiting for London to hire me."

Devos thought she had a chance to join the department last August but recruitment took place when she was competing in the world championships in Italy and in order to be hired, one has to apply in person. Devos is a British Columbia native but lives in London after meeting and marrying a Londoner. She graduated from Western in 2007.

Devos feels sculls are the right place for her and believes she'll be in a much better position to be named to the 2012 Olympic team than she was in 2008.

"I narrowly missed the last Olympics and I feel like I'm higher up the totem pole than the last time," she said. "Things are looking good and I just need to keep looking at improving."

In the women's pairs competition, the team that's been strong throughout the competition was strong in the final yesterday.

Ashley Brozozwicz and Sarah Bonikowsky were smooth on their way to a win in the women's pairs.

Brozozwicz and Bonikowsky are defending national champions and are Beijing Olympians. They looked in complete control throughout the race.

"It was a very special race," Bonikowsky said. "We were right in the rhythm. We just kept moving and it felt really great. One of the things I like about rowing is when you hit the right rhythm and you feel like you are flying, just skimming over the water and that takes two people, or four people, or eight people to really be in the same rhythm. I think that's what we hit today. It's an exciting feeling because that's what you train for all those dark mornings. It was so special to hit that today on the day of the final."

Brozozwicz and Bonikowsky have been rowing together for three years. Usually Bonikowsky is in the bow and Brozozwicz is in the stroke but they've switched this year. No matter, the pair hit it off and continue to race well.

"The interesting thing is we were first assigned by our coach to row together," she said. "Once I got into the pairs, we realized we have some magic, that together we were faster than we were individually. Developing that can take years."

Bonikowsky and Brozozwicz are looking to take another crack at the Olympics. As the clock winds inside of two years before the next Summer Games, the training will ratchet up.

"This year I've had the added joy of a master's program at Western in occupational therapy so I've had to be smart about my training and work it around school," Bonikowsky said. "I don't think anything can compare to how hard we worked during the Olympic year but training is always a four-year cycle. We'll be building up to that the two years."

morris.dallacosta@sunmedia.ca


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