GPS Rowing: The Churchie star who we lost too soon
At 5.30pm two days before Christmas last year, former Olympic rower Ian Edmunds was on the Gold Coast at a Daryl Braithwaite concert.
As he does every year on that day and at that time, he glanced at his watch and remembered his old crewmate Duncan Fisher.
Like Edmunds, Fisher - an old boy of Brisbane's Anglican Church School ('Churchie') - had rowed at the Los Angeles Olympics. Four months after the Closing Ceremony, on December 23, 1984, he was killed in a car accident, aged 22.
On the day of his funeral The Courier-Mail published a touching tribute penned by Edmunds.
"The respect for his achievements and the gratitude for all he has done to make all our lives the richer are a tribute to his character," he wrote.
"Duncan had a huge heart of gold, and all who came in contact with him love him and will never recover from this shocking accident.
"In his short years Duncan achieved more than most people can hope to achieve. He fulfilled an ambition, one of the ultimate goals, to represent his country at the Olympic Games.
"He was a truly great Australian. The world would be a better place if more of us had a fraction of Duncan's dedication, tolerance and kindness. I am proud to say that I was a friend of Duncan Fisher and that I shared some of his most joyous and memorable times."
Churchie was introduced to rowing by its founder Canon William Morris in 1915.
Canon Morris had rowed during his time studying at Cambridge and had a great appreciation for the sport's capacity to imbue lifelong qualities of team-work, dedication and endurance.
Churchie contested its first Head of the River in 1920, and won two years later. In the years since, the school has won the race a total of 16 times and produced many outstanding oarsmen, five of whom have rowed for the US Ivy League schools of Yale and Harvard.
Jared Bidwell, who rowed in Churchie's 2004 Head of the River-winning crew, represented Australia at the 2009 World Championships in the men's quad and was a reserve for the 2012 London Olympics.
But only one Churchie Old Boy has so far rowed at the Olympics and sadly we will never know just how good he might have been.
Duncan Fisher's enormous potential was spotted early and he, along with State High's Ian Edmunds, was chosen for a junior talent program that saw them win national championships in eights and fours and numerous regattas as a pair.
At the 1984 Olympics Fisher rowed in the coxless fours while Edmunds was part of the bronze-medal winning eight.
"He was a very good rower," Edmunds recalled.
"You don't get to the Olympics if you're not.
"I was two years older than him but we made a good team and had some excellent results. He was a great guy, a good crewmate.
"I always remember the time and date he died. He'd been to a barbecue at the Uni boatshed and his car hit a tree on the way home.
"It was 5.30 in the afternoon and every year at that time I remember him."
Anglican Church Grammar School
O'CONNOR CUP WINS: 2012, 2010, 2005, 2004, 1998
Church of England Grammar School
O'CONNOR CUP WINS: 1975, 1973, 1971, 1969, 1963, 1941, 1940, 1939, 1936, 1926, 1923
TOTAL WINS: 16
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