Peter Antonie and Stephen Hawkins seemed to have much against them on the final day of competition on Lake Banyoles in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. They had been rowing together for only a few months and were by far the lightest crew in the final, averaging 15kg less than their rivals.
They lived up to their nickname – “the Pocket Rockets”, racing away to an early lead from which they were never headed. They held out Austria by .08 of a second and winning Australia its first rowing gold medal in 44 years.
Hawkins and Antonie seemed an unlikely pairing before victory in the national championships on Lake Barrington propelled them into the Olympic team. Melbourne-based Antonie was a stocky (182cm and 76.5kg) veteran who at 34 had been representing Australia in international events since 1977. Tasmanian Hawkins was 21, a relative novice at this level, and not only shorter, at 177 cm but lighter at 75kg.
Whatever they lacked in stature compared to the favoured European teams, they lacked nothing in speed. They won their heat and semi-final before their all-the-way victory in the final.
Olympic Games – Barcelona
Stephen Hawkins OAM