By Denis Balibouse

“The important thing in life is not victory, but the fight; the main thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.” Baron Pierre de Coubertin

I have always been addicted to sports, any kind of sports. My father was a sports reporter in Switzerland. As a child I would follow him onto soccer pitches, motocross grounds and ice hockey rinks. Whenever I travel somewhere I try to follow the local sports. I even attempted to understand cricket (I’m married to an Australian), although I have to confess, I have so far failed with this one.

Now that the Euro Championship is over, my attention will turn to the “road slaves” of the Tour de France, which, in my eyes, is the toughest sporting event in the world. And then there’s the Olympic Games in London, regarded by many athletes as the pinnacle of physical prowess.

As part of our pre-Games coverage, editors have asked us to photograph some athletes during their preparation for the event. Despite plenty of assignments in Geneva, where I am based, I suggested going to the Swiss Rowing Center in Sarnen, central Switzerland. The backdrop of the Swiss Rowing Center is postcard-perfect. Snow-covered mountain peaks ring Sarnen Lake, so I knew the story would not lack for visual appeal.

Simon Cox, the British-born trainer of the Swiss Olympic rowing team, offered to let me follow the quad scull team and to focus on new Swiss talent Augustin Maillefer. Nineteen-year-old Augustin, a Junior World Champion in 2010 was only selected for the team a few months ago, after his older brother Jeremy was injured and unable to row for the team.