An article by RNSW Sports Journalism Scholarship Holder Annie Murphy
Toby Lister, 25, will be making his Olympic debut this month in London as the Coxswain for the Men’s Eight. After years of preparation and months of training, careful fitness and weight maintenance Toby is prepared to lead the crew to Australia’s first Olympic gold medal in this event.
Toby’s career in the sport began at The Shore School in Sydney. Steeped in a long rowing tradition, it was here that Toby was encouraged to join as a coxswain. His natural small, slim build proved him to be a perfect candidate, and he soon went on to cox many gold medal races for the school, including the GPS Head of the River in 2003 and 2004, and the Champion Schoolboy VIII at the Australian National Titles.
Toby’s father, Craig Lister, says that it was from this early point that his son’s rowing career began to develop.
“He had a passion for the sport and was very good at what he did so the career just evolved from the natural ability and passion,” Craig said.
No one in the family dared dream Toby’s success could lead to an Olympic Games, but his parents recall one moment when Toby first saw it possible.
“He came home from rowing training after just starting, he was obviously enjoying himself so much, he said to Anne [his mother], ‘I am going to the Olympics one day’,” Craig said.
Toby has gone on to win six Riverview Gold Cups with Sydney University Boat Club, four Kings Cups with NSW, a bronze medal at the World Rowing Championships in New Zealand in 2010, and will mark eight years with the national team this year.
Toby’s rowing career has been years of early morning drop-offs and pick-ups for Craig and Anne Lister, but it’s just part of helping Toby on his journey to the Olympic Games.
“It was worth it… He’s going to represent Australia, which as parents made us very proud,” Craig said.
Standing at 174 centimetres and weighing just 55 kilograms, Toby’s recent training schedule for the London Olympics at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra has been described by his father in basic terms as “full on.”
As well as morning and afternoon rowing sessions, Toby also walks nightly for fitness and weight maintenance which is complemented by runs and weekend cross-training sessions on the bike. He also attends the gym with the rowers to maintain fitness and keep to 55 kilograms, toeing the fine line between diet and exercise. Between all of this, Toby works part time for a building company and is studying a degree in Construction Management.
With 10 family members over in London to watch the race, including his mum, brother and sister, Craig says the Games will be a family affair.
“His success has made the whole family incredibly proud.”
Toby Lister is looking to go on to compete in the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The Men’s Eight heats begin on Saturday July 28 2012 at 10:10am, and the final will be held on August 1 at 10.30am London time.
Like what you read? Annie Murphy is one of the Rowing NSW Sports Journalism Scholarship holders. Read more about the program here.