Jutta Lau is one of the leading rowing coaches in the world. During her long-standing career as a coach, she has won many Olympic medals and international titles. She was also very successful as an athlete, winning two Olympic golds and four world championship titles. After years training Germany’s top rowers she now works for the Chinese rowing association.
German rowing coach Jutta Lau
Jutta Lau has been working and living in China for almost two months. She is currently coaching the rowing team of China’s north-eastern Shandong province before taking on the national team in October.
She decided to have a change of scenery after some differences with the German rowing association in the aftermath of the less than successful Beijing Olympics last year.
She left Potsdam, where the German national rowing team has its headquarters, and accepted an offer from the Chinese rowing association to coach China’s national team.
“All these years, I was number one in the world with the German team,” she explains. “I think that I want to repeat that again for my sake. It is a personal challenge for me -- whether I can do it in Potsdam only or in a foreign country as well.”
Friendly welcome but not much time
Jutta Lau was pleasantly surprised by the friendly welcome she received in China. But so far she has not had much time to discover the country and its people.
Her new employer, the Chinese rowing association, has high expectations of Germany’s top coach: “They have already set me some tough goals for the future,” she days. “The last one is the Olympic Games in 2012. This year, the goal is the Chinese national games, which have a high reputation in the country. And they expect the province of Shandong to be number one. So there is a lot of pressure on me.”
Jutta Lau has already demonstrated that she can stand extreme pressure. She was shaped by the sports establishment in former East Germany. She says that coming to China was like journeying back to old times.
Chinese athletes are surprisingly disciplined
As an active athlete, she was very disciplined. She was awarded several Olympic medals and world championship titles for her hard work. Nonetheless, she says that she is surprised by the Chinese athletes.
“I still have to get used to the discipline of the Chinese. I always thought I had a lot of discipline in Germany. But the discipline in China goes one step further. Now I am here -- back where I was many years ago -- I can work with athletes and other coaches from morning to night. This is a huge change for me. Things are a lot more focused here.”
Jutta Lau thinks that there is great potential in Chinese rowing. She also says she feels very comfortable in the country and is trying to improve her Chinese language skills. She says she can well imagine extending her contract with the Chinese rowing association beyond 2012.