Argonaut Olympian Issue #1
We are honouring our past and present Olympians by documenting their achievements and establishing a permanent archive. An Argonaut Olympian is an athlete who has been a competitive member of the club prior to competing at the Olympic games. Until 1972, athletes represented their club as well as their country at the Olympics. In 1976 a National Team system was developed in Canada, thus ending club representation at the games. Other than footnoting this difference, there is no other discrepancy between the two systems for the purpose of this exercise.
The Argonaut Rowing Club has produced more Olympic crews than any other club in North America while that system existed fielding a total of thirteen crews and entries. Many more members have since competed in National Team programs and have been winning gold medals at the Olympics and World Championships with consistency for nearly three decades. This is the first of the series, compiled non-chronologically, of our athletes that have donned the double blue and gone on to compete in the Olympic Games.
George Tintor, 1976 Montreal Olympics - Games of the XXIst Olympiad
Sitting at his desk in Zurich, Switzerland, George Tintor reflects on the sport that he loves and has largely forgiven for past disappointments. After a hiatus of 27 years, he returned to the sport with a vengeance in 2007 and has routinely visited the Argonaut Club since then. His life has been a charmed one from his childhood growing up in High Park and attending Parkdale Collegiate to joining the Argonaut Rowing Club as a Junior at age 14. By 19 he was competing at the Montreal Olympics as the youngest male rower from any country present. Still on the National Team in 1980, and looking to improve on his eighth place finish in the men’s eight, he was unable to compete as the Moscow Games were boycotted. George retired from the sport that year but the foundation for success had been laid. By the next Olympics, the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, the men’s eight would win their first ever gold and the first of three golds won to date by a Canadian crew in this event - every one of which has had an Argonaut Olympian in the boat.
The hook, a poster
A boy in grade nine struts the long hallway to class. Thirsty, he stops at a nearby fountain, takes a drink of water and as he straightens his tall frame he finds himself staring face to face with a poster that would change his life…
The Argonaut Rowing Club was in the habit of recruiting by poster in those days and it was just one of these ads that caught George’s eye in the hallways of Parkdale Collegiate. He was coached and mentored at Argos first by the late D’Arcy Burgon and later by Forbes Marnoch who can still be seen rowing at the club on an almost-daily basis. George has fond memories of his early days at the club, in his words:
“I am honoured to have been coached by both of them.”
It is quite evident that Forbes and George have continued a lifelong friendship with frequent visits the past few years. George can be seen sculling in Forbes’ single or hopping in a double or quad for a workout. Before joining the Junior National Team, George and his brother Nick won the Canadian Schoolboy Championships (CSSRA) in 1974 in the pair. That summer, George and Keith Caines went on to be Canadian junior champions, also in the pair, and represented Canada at the World Junior Rowing Championship in Ratzeburg, Germany, finishing 6th.
George Tintor and Keith Caines, 1974 Canadian Junior Champs in the men's pair rowing a 1972 Ayling boat built by Dick Sims at the Argonaut Rowing Club (current workshop/doubles bay)
Penn plucks rising star at Double Blue
The 1974 edition of the Double Blue Awards Gala featured Olympic gold medalist Ted Nash as keynote speaker. Then head coach at the University of Pennsylvania and always keeping an eye out for new talent, the charismatic speaker “easily convinced me to go to Penn” according to George. Within a year he would be rowing at the summer games for Canada. In 1977, as a sophomore, George stroked the Penn varsity eight. Notable wins included the San Diego Crew Classic and the Adams Cup versus Harvard and Navy, ending Harvard’s four year winning streak.
Olympic fever hits Canada
In the summer of 1976 our country was gripped with anticipation hosting the first Olympic games on Canadian soil. These were the games where Nadia Comaneci had the first ever perfect score in gymnastics and repeated the task six more times; the legendary Pertti Karppinen won his first of three consecutive gold medals rowing in the men's single and women won the right to compete in rowing events for the first time in history.
George Tintor rowing in six seat at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
During the late 1970’s, although a National Team program was developed under the guidance of former Argonaut head coach Tudor Bompa, advanced training sciences such as calculating lactic threshold were still years away. The team had no dedicated training facility and split time working out on Burnaby Lake in Vancouver and in St. Catharines, usually with club coaches. Other than in 1976, the crew selection process could almost have been described as ad hoc:
“I had five different coaches on the national team in five years, almost all of whom were club coaches who were parachuted in at the last minute. The only non-club men’s coach was Al Roaf from Vancouver, who coached our eight in 1977.”
Clearly there was a cost in switching to a national system after seventy years of club representation at the games. George’s eight wasn’t expected to qualify for the 1976 games but did. They weren’t expected to do very well but did, finishing second in the B final. For many though the experience was a disappointment given the hype of the Summer Olympics in Canada and the Men’s Eight being considered little more than an afterthought on the Canadian Olympic Rowing Team.
Time heals, 27 years later
There’s a saying, once an oarsman… for George Tintor it was an invitation to row:
"Some old friends from Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia asked me to join them in a 10k masters race at the Monaco Coastal Regatta in Feb. 2007. I had been training on the erg and felt fit enough to join them. We finished second in that race and I was hooked again. When I got back to Zurich, I joined the Grasshopper Club and started rowing again. My goal was to take a crew back to Monaco and win, which we finally did in 2009."
Life after rowing
It’s true, there is. In George's case he ended up graduating with a BSc from the University of Pennsylvania, an MBA at Columbia University and a successful career in investment banking in New York, London and finally in Zurich, the home of his wife Isabel. They have three daughters – Diana, Marina and Anoushka – all of whom are great fans, in recent years, Anoushka has chosen to row and is a great competitor in the Tintor spirit!
The big question
How many medals will Canadian rowers win at the 2012 games? GT says 5!
Good luck in all the challenges you take on in 2012 George, but you probably won’t need it.
George Tintor - Rowing Biography, Notable Achievements
- 1957 - Born in Toronto, grew up in High Park.
- 1972 - Started rowing in grade 9 at age 14 at Argonaut Rowing Club for Parkdale Collegiate crew in the spring of 1972. He was first coached by D’Arcy Burgon and later by Forbes Marnoch.
- 1973 - Won Argonaut RC Oarsman of the Year Award
- 1974 - Won Canadian Schoolboy Championships for Parkdale Collegiate in the men’s pair with brother Nick. Won Canadian Championship junior pair with Keith Caines.
- 1974 – 75 Junior National Rowing Team member.
- 1976 – 80 National Rowing Team Member.
- 1976 – 78 University of Pennsylvania crew, coached by Ted Nash
- 1976 - Canadian Olympic Team finishing 8th in the Men’s Eight event at the Montreal summer Olympics.
- 1980 - Canadian Olympic Team 1980 – Moscow summer Olympic games boycotted by Canada, did not compete.
- 1980 - Retired from rowing competitively.
- 2007 – Left retirement to row at masters regattas in Switzerland and abroad, joined Grasshopper Club of Zurich, rows at Argos when visiting Canada.
- 2011 – Competed in 12 masters races including wins at the Monaco Coastal Regatta, Swiss Nationals, Swiss Rowing Ass’n 125th Anniversary Regatta and Armada Cup winning a total of 10 times in these regattas in various sweep and sculling events.
Medal Count - Rowing Events – Games of the XXIst Olympiad – Montreal, CAN
| East Germany
| Soviet Union
GRANT SOMMERS 2011