A Winnipegger who learned to row on the Red River, Jeff Powell took the Canadian men’s rowing program places it had never been, and today inspires the athletes he coaches to do the same.
A gifted all-around athlete in high school, Powell didn’t take to rowing until he joined the Winnipeg Rowing Club at 21. He competed for the club at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta and the National Rowing Championships. He worked towards a BA (hons) from the University of Manitoba and completed his masters in economics at the University of Western Ontario. He rowed for both schools. In 2001, Powell moved to Victoria, trained under Coach Mike Spracklen, and made the men’s eight team.
Powell sat strong in the stroke seat and captured Canada’s first gold medal at the World Rowing Championships in 2002 and again in 2003 as part of the Canadian men’s eight. Powell’s former teammate Brian Price notes, “I have absolutely no doubt that the time I spent sitting directly in front of Jeff for 2.5 years had an incredible influence on my development as the coxswain of the crew. His rise through the ranks of the Canadian team in such a short time is very impressive.”
His team’s success would continue in early 2004. The men’s eight were World Cup champions in Munich, Germany and Lucerne, Switzerland and rowed for Canada in the 2004 Athens Olympics. Sitting in the same stroke position at the Olympics, Powell knew he'd be a key figure in the final against the U.S. The Canadians came in 2nd place, and Powell retired as a rowing athlete later that year.
After his retirement, Powell turned to coaching. He was based at the Winnipeg Rowing Club and served as the VP High Performance for the Manitoba Rowing Association. He has coached the next generation of elite athletes in Talent ID and Development programs in partnership with Rowing Canada Aviron.
Powell was part of the coaching staff with the national women’s program at the 2011 World Rowing Championships and the 2012 Olympic Games in London. In Winnipeg in 2013, he coached the masters’ competitive program at the Winnipeg Rowing Club, helping Winnipeg athletes win ten medals at the 110th North West International Rowing Association Championship Regatta. Powell’s tireless dedication to rowing in Manitoba and the national program is the reason his athletes achieved success in their own careers.
Jeff Powell became the General Manager of the Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba.