The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has paid tribute to the late Nick Garratt, a four-time Olympic rowing coach who has died at the age of 71.
Garratt was in Penrith with the under-23 Australian rowing team, as part of his role coaching the lightweight women’s pair and lightweight men’s double scull, when he passed away suddenly.
Rowing Australia revealed it is working closely to support its current under-23 athletes, who are due to travel to Sarasota in the United States for the World Rowing Under-23 Championships later this month, and also its current senior Australian rowing team, many of whom have been coached by Garratt.
AOC President John Coates offered his condolences to Garratt’s family and the rowing community he served for many decades.
"This is a shock and the saddest of days for us all," he said.
"Nick has given so much to rowing at every level and to the Olympic Movement in Australia over many decades.
"Here he was, at 71, preparing the Australian under-23 team for a World Championship.
"That says so much about his passion for the sport and his willingness to help young people.
"At Olympic level, at national level and at club level, there are many hundreds of rowers, young and mature, who are in his debt as a coach and mentor."
Rowing Australia President Rob Scott added: "We are all deeply shocked and saddened by Nick’s sudden and untimely passing.
"He was a passionate rowing coach who worked tirelessly to develop and support Australian rowers from grassroots to Olympic level.
"He was a greatly loved and admired member of our rowing family and we are all feeling this profound loss.
"Our thoughts are with Nick’s family, his athletes and colleagues, both current and past, at this difficult time."
One of six children, born in Perth, Garratt's contribution to Australian rowing has been vast.
The 2018 Pathway Coach of the Year and current head rowing coach of the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Academy of Sport, he coached male and female Olympic crews at London 2012, Beijing 2008, Athens 2004 and Sydney 2000, as well as numerous senior and under-age Australian crews.
In addition to his coaching of national team crews, Garratt was also responsible for coaching Western Australia to a memorable King’s Cup victory in 1999 in West Lakes in South Australia.
He was the head coach of multiple New South Wales King’s Cup crews, including overseeing their winning of seven consecutive titles from 2008 to 2015.
Garratt was also the head coach of Mosman Rowing Club for over a decade, the men’s head coach for rowing at the New South Wales Institute of Sport from 2001 to 2005, the senior coach for rowing at the Western Australian Institute of Sport from 1991 to 2001, and head coach at Haberfield Rowing Club from 1985 to 1991.
He coached his first Australian crew at the 1995 World Rowing Junior Championships in Polish city Poznań.
The West Australian saw his crews win their first medals in 1996 at the World Rowing Junior Championships in Motherwell in Scotland.
His men’s single scull, Stuart Reside, was triumphant, while his men’s double scull of Jonathan Fievez and Time Perkins also picked up gold medals.
Success continued for Garratt the following year when he coached Amber Bradley to a gold medal in the women’s single scull at the 1997 World Rowing Junior Championships on Hazewinkel in Belgium.
He worked across junior, under-21, under-23 and senior Australian rowing teams during his entire career.
Garratt's first Olympic Games as a coach was at Australia's home edition of Sydney 2000, where he coached the men’s quadruple scull of Peter Hardcastle, Jason Day, Reside and Duncan Free to a fourth-place finish.
At Athens 2004, he guided Craig Jones to an 11th-place finish in the men’s single scull, while Brendan Long and Hardcastle finished 12th in the men’s double scull.
Garratt coached five Mosman Rowing Club athletes onto the Beijing 2008 team - Hardcastle, Tom Laurich, Daniel Noonan, Zoe Uphill and Amy Clay, with the latter two women combining with Kerry Hore and Bradley in the women’s quadruple scull, coached by the West Australian, and placing sixth.
London 2012 was Garratt's fourth Olympic Games as a coach.
He qualified the Australian women’s eight through to the final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Europe, with the crew finishing sixth overall at London 2012.
In 2016, Garratt was appointed a member in the General Division of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours.