Tribute to Katerina Kleshneva

Katerina Kleshneva sadly passed away in September. A hugely talented coach, she was passionate about encouraging juniors to achieve their best both on and off the water

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A proud moment for Katerina at the National Schools Regatta

Katerina Kleshneva, who passed away on 8 September, was a junior rowing coach for many years, her passion, experience and dedication to the development of junior rowing was greatly recognised within and outside the rowing community.

Born in the stunning city of St Petersburg, Katerina rowed there from a young age. Highly educated, she took a masters degree and postgraduate diploma in Sport Sciences, then specialised in Psychology and Business Administration. She became a proud mum to Sergey, Vladimir and Victor and moved from Russia to Australia, then to England always loyally following her husband, Valery.

Katerina began coaching in the UK in 2013 at Maidenhead RC, continuing the club’s successful junior boys’ programme, which she enhanced and improved, introducing a professional scientific approach and systematic planning with motivational encouragement as the foundation. This brought plenty of successes at local regattas, Nat Schools Regatta and the British Rowing Junior Championships as well as at international events and, as the years went by, the volume and prestige of these only grew.

Katerina believed that with commitment and dedication anything was possible

Boys from the 2017 and the 2018 A quad represented GBR at Coupe de la Jeunesse, winning numerous medals. Victor Kleshnev, Katerina’s son, was a member of a quad that won two silvers medals for GBR at the World Rowing Junior Championships in 2017 and 2018. He continued in the double, winning a bronze medal as a senior at World Cup III in 2021.

At the start of the 2020/2021 season Katerina moved to Marlow RC and coached the junior boys, achieving remarkable results despite the limits imposed by the pandemic. This was a start of another journey which, sadly, she could not complete.

Katerina believed that with commitment and dedication anything was possible. Challenges were always opportunities to overcome if one was going to achieve their goals. Her positivity and engaging coaching style were centred on hard work and were always carried out with a smile. An early Sunday morning many moons ago comes to mind, when the boys had to shift a serious amount of snow from the pontoons before getting in their boats. They started their training with snow coming down – and they loved it!

The world of rowing has lost an exceptional junior rowing coach and a dear friend

Katerina’s attitude to rowing could only be described as enthusiastically positive. Always looking for improvement, she never believed in placing blame or finding excuses. If results weren’t achieved, the juniors simply needed to focus more and work harder. Her dedication to rowing and to the juniors she coached was exemplary and one which will be desperately missed.

She was also very kind, always respectful and encouraging. As well as rowing, she loved music, travelling and spending time chatting and laughing with family and friends with a nice glass of something bubbly.

The world of rowing has lost an exceptional junior rowing coach and a dear friend. Katerina’s legacy will stay with the juniors she has coached, who will, in years to come, still find strength and encouragement remembering their very special coach.

Thanks to Carlotta Marshall and Sean Kemp for the tribute  

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