Must admit I was reluctant to write during the week of our National Championships. Reason was that although much of the week was normal there was a considerable amount of disappointment I felt. As an athlete it has been something I enjoy. We train for so long and to get the opportunity to race is what it’s all about. Due to the changes that have occurred in our system the National Team members are only required to participate at the event and with no selection requirements it has meant many athletes don’t compete in a number of the events. To be involve in a National Pairs Championships race with only four crews was pretty tragic. Not that I blame the athletes, but while sitting on the start line of the race I thought this is ridicules. I don’t want to get bogged down in this but so many changes have occurred and are still occurring that confuse me. I love things improving but I can’t help but feel that this is not a good sign for the future.
Now on to the relating elements that many other and I would have experienced during the competition. Before each race I found that I went through many things and having not really raced since the Worlds it was amazing to be reminded of the nervousness that I go through before racing. What I have become aware of is it is not really about the race, or competitors, or the unknowns, or the uncertainty of the results. It is about where the intensity of motivation will take me. The physical effort and the level of fatigue, pain and sheer burning that can be present during the performance. Add this to the depth of capacity that is willing to stay and hold against the buffering, surging and flooding thought which seem to magnify in the lead up to peak experiences. The other element of the nerves is related to the connection with the other athlete in the boat. Not wanting to let them down and more importantly wanting to find that special something, that groove, that harmony, the seamless interaction for with it things become a little easier. Obviously with out them it becomes hard, heavy and altogether desperate which at some point becomes a weight that it to great to conquer.
Duncan and I raced the pair and four. He also raced the quad scull, Presidents Cup and Kings Cup, which meant he had a very full load. To have a read of his perspective take a look at his blog, which he has just set up. Actually will be very interesting* what we both write about the same experiences going forward.
As for the other events I raced in, it was a fun experience to race in the coxed for with James Tomkins and two great club rower’s in, Michael Young and Henry Edgar. It was a hoot sitting up in the bow seat and watching the whole thing unfold in front. Unfortunately we just missed out on a medal but we races for a strong fourth place. What does strong fourth place mean? Well it a way to make us feel better about get the potato medal. The other event was the Kings Cup and it does get much closer than the finish margin between the New South Wales crew and our Victorian eight. Disappointing to be on the wrong side of the .21 sec margin, but full credit to the team from NSW they performed very well in what is often a little pressure cooker of a race. Because it is a one off and the form of crews is purely speculative the intensity and expectations can be all over the shop. This year the guys from NSW did a great job of staying on task and performing when required. I am sure for all of them it would have been hugely satisfying and a highlight of their rowing careers. I know this because it has always been that way for me, win or loose. So many male athletes in Australia get a real buzz out of racing Kings Cup and as such the nerves and excitement are high. On Sunday we felt the frustration and disappointment, but not because we lost. Rather I felt we didn’t do anything wrong in the race, it was just that we didn’t quiet nail it. Does that mean we could have got to the line first, maybe but it was less focused on that and more focused on producing our best row as a crew. It was close, but on a few occasions we got off our feet and the stability just wasn’t spot on. The great thing I feel is that it all looks positive for the men’s sweep team.
The race I probably got the most buzz from was during the fours. The increased speed of the boat closes up the margins and with a better turn out of athletes for the race it meant it was a cracker of an event. I had the good fortune to be in the boat with Duncan, David Crawshay and Karsten Forstling. It was cool to be able to get together with these guys and for the first time in my rowing life I got to row a tandem rig. Which saw Kartsen and I as the bow side book ends and the two drivers on stroke side in the middle seats. It was a hoot because we got into a great rhythm earlier and were able to increase speed over the final stages of the race. To me this is exactly how I like to race. Start fast but have a great long rhythmical stroke and really enjoy turning the screw as we move down the track. The other crews made it an exciting race with close margins and we certainly crossed the line with a sense of satisfaction for a well-executed performance.
It has taken me some time to get around to posting this but I have wanted to capture a clear perspective on the experience over last week.