Thomi Keller - A Life In Sport

Thomi Keller's place in rowing's
pantheon is beyond dispute. A
talented oarsman whose hopes of
winning an Olympic medal were
dashed when Switzerland didn't
attend the 1956 Games, he went
on to preside over FISA, the
sport's international federation,
for more than thirty years. During
a turbulent and fast-changing era
marked by Cold War politics and
sport's incipient
commercialisation, he
substantially modernised both
rowing and its governing body,
resolutely putting the athlete
first. Yet Keller's influence
extended far beyond his own
sport. By convincing other sports
leaders of the benefits of working
together, he forged the
international federations into a
force that the International
Olympic Committee - custodians
of the world's most diverse and
spectacular sporting event - had
no choice but to respect. At the
height of his powers, in the late
1970s, he arguably wielded more
influence among fellow sports
leaders than the IOC president
himself. Though ultimately
outmaneuvered by the IOC's Juan
Antonio Samaranch, who
identified and harnessed the
Olympics' commercial power,
Keller remained a revered figure
until his death in 1989, aged only sixty-four. Thirty years on he is still, as one obituarist put it, "the
outstanding figure in the history of international rowing". While the sporting world Keller inhabited
has since been transformed by the cash that has gushed in from broadcasters and sponsors, his
essential message - that fair competition and athlete wellbeing must come first - remains today as
relevant as ever. Drawing on exclusive access to contemporary documents and the reminiscences of
those who knew Keller, the award-winning sportswriter David Owen has written the first full-length
biography of one of the most important and charismatic sports leaders of the twentieth century.
Available from Amazon @ $20.96