While not the ideal height coaches tend to look for in an elite rowing athlete, Lisa Roman more than makes up for that perceived deficiency.
“She is not the tallest athlete, but she certainly makes up for it with her tenacity,” said John Keogh, the chief coach for Rowing Canada’s senior women’s national team.
Since January, the 5-foot-11 Roman has been in London, Ont. training with Rowing Canada.
Keogh says coaches tend to seek out athletes six feet and above with long limbs.
“What they probably lack in height, they make up in other areas, like their ability to race and ability to turn it on,” he said.
“In our sport, there are athletes who are good trainers and there are athletes who are good racers and I think she fits in the category of good racer. She has that ability to step up in a race.
“And she is very tenacious and has a very good work ethic.”
And it is that ability which has landed Roman a spot with the senior women’s national team program.
In the past eight months, Roman has shown well at a variety of regattas and Rowing Cups — Roman has represented Canada in both the Netherlands and Switzerland — and was chosen to race with the senior national team at the world championships in South Korea.
“This was definitely my goal coming in (to the year),” Roman told The Times, from Ontario, prior to leaving for the world championships on Aug. 14.
The Canadian side will train in South Korea prior to the world championships, which begin Aug. 25 and run until Sept. 1. They are being held in Chungju, South Korea.
While this may be her first time at the world championships, Roman fully expected to make the final roster.
“I knew what I had to do if I wanted to go (to worlds),” she said.
“(And) I am definitely not surprised to make it because as soon as I got (to the Rowing Canada training centre), I went straight to work.
“I knew what I needed to do to get on the team.”
And what she has needed to do has been putting in the work.
Roman and the rest of the rowers are typically on the water for about three hours a day — split into two practice sessions — and then off-water workouts as well.
Add it all together, and it is a full-time job. It also means that Roman is delaying putting what she learned at university on hold for the time being.
The soon-to-be 24-year-old — she celebrates a birthday next month — graduated from Washington State University in May 2012 with a psychology degree and a double minor in human development and sports management.
She does some occasional part-time respite work with a 13-year-old autistic boy.
But the focus remains on representing her country.
“(All the sacrifice) is worth it when you get to stand on the podium, that’s for sure,” she said, adding it is amazing to wear your country’s colours.
“I love it; there is no better feeling.”
She helped Canada win bronze in July at the World Rowing Cup in Switzerland. Roman was also part of the Canada squad which won gold in 2011 at the under-23 world rowing championships, setting a world record in the process.
Following the world championships, Roman will return to Langley — her family still lives in Murrayville and she is a graduate of D.W. Poppy Secondary — for a brief three-week break, before she heads back to London to resume training.
All of this is being done with the goal of rowing for Canada at the Olympics, hopefully in 2016.