John Tanguay sets his sights on Tokyo 2021 Paralympics
Published: Jan 21st, 2021
Trinity Sport Scholarship student athlete, John Tanguay, 22, is currently studying an MSc in Operations and Supply Chain Management at Trinity College Dublin Business School. John completed his undergraduate degree in Computer Science from Columbia University. In 2019, he represented the United States at the World Rowing Championships and qualified the U.S boat for the Tokyo 2021 Paralympics. As an elite athlete who is preparing for the Tokyo 2021 Paralympics John is training hard at present, completing daily ergometer sessions in Trinity Sport and also accessing the gym for his strength & conditioning sessions (he is classified as an elite athlete and permitted to continue his training whilst in Level 5).
- How did you first become involved in rowing and who were your biggest influences in the sport?
I first became involved in rowing due to my disability. I was born with bi-lateral club feet which is a birth defect that required the reconstruction of my feet and a consequential limitation of walking and running. I was heavily involved in sports like basketball, baseball, and lacrosse in my youth but eventually had to stop due to the strain running put on my feet. I needed a sporting outlet and rowing was the natural first choice considering the athletes compete entirely while seated. I joined the nearest club to my home and have been rowing for the past eight years. The boathouse which the club operates out of is also a United States Olympic Training Site. Thus, many of the club’s coaching staff were members of the US Senior National Rowing Team. This type of exposure to individuals who competed at the highest level of the sport was the greatest influence a thirteen-year-old novice rower could hope of.
- What has been the highlight of your rowing career so far?
The most meaningful highlight of my rowing career has been the people I have had the privilege to meet over the past eight years. The sport of rowing has an incredible capacity to forge relationships which I’ve found to be unmatched by any other facet of life.
- How did it feel to win a silver medal at the 2019 World Rowing Championships and qualify the United States for the Tokyo Paralympics?
It was an unbelievable opportunity to represent the United States at the World Rowing Championships and qualify the boat for the Tokyo Paralympics. Considering this event was my first international competition at the senior-level, winning a silver medal was surreal. I am certainly counting the days until I can be competing at that level once again.
- You were preparing for the Tokyo Paralympics at the start of 2020, how did you deal with the cancellation of competitions and training due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
I went from training with my closest boatmates in New York City to training in isolation in my basement in New Jersey. This was quite the adjustment although I am grateful for the support of my family during that time. I was also lucky enough to receive support from US Rowing that was put towards adding additional training equipment to my home gym so that I could truly make the most of my time away from the boat.
- Why did you choose to study at Trinity College Dublin? Was it difficult to adjust to college life during a global pandemic?
I wanted to have an experience different from my undergraduate one and I particularly wanted to study in Europe. Trinity College Dublin was the clearest choice of schools based on my academic and sporting interests. Pursuing a master’s degree abroad during a global pandemic has certainly posed some challenges. Taking classes entirely online and not having the opportunity to encounter many of Dublin’s traditional offerings has taken some of the joy out of my experience. Ultimately, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and continue my education.
- How was your rowing training affected during lockdown?
My training has been greatly affected during the Covid-19 lockdown. I believe all athletes would agree that training for a team sport when one isn’t allowed to be with the team is an immense challenge. Facing multiple lockdowns has made me very grateful for the practices I have had with Dublin University Boat Club on the River Liffey thus far, I am hopeful for more consistent training with the club this spring once the weather warms.
- Looking to the future, what are your sporting and personal goals for 2021?
I am hoping to represent the United States once more at the Tokyo Paralympics this summer. I am also extra hopeful for a first-place finish ahead of Great Britain. Personally, I am very much looking forward to continuing my studies at Trinity Business School as well as researching and writing my dissertation.
John Tanguay has been awarded a Podium Level Trinity Sport Scholarship which recognises his exceptional athletic ability and supports him in is preparations for the Tokyo 2021 Paralympics. This feature was first published in the digital version of Trinity Alumni January 2021 newsletter, to read the full digital magazine click HERE.