It’s been a while since writing here and I guess the recent focus and distractions have kept me occupied.
Not much I can say about the racing here as I am focused on ensuring what we set up give us the best each time we go out to train and race.
Some background probably helps here. We came in with the focus of two races with only one person changing. Unfortunately weeks ago when Duncan hurt his rib it got to the point where he was ruled out days before starting here. With out focusing to much on Duncan’s situation we have all got on with making sure the four is as fast as we can make it. Personally I am devastated for Duncan and until it’s clear what the options going forward might be I remind myself my job is to row as well as I can and make it easier for the guys in the boat to ensure we go fast. Sure it’s been a distraction but I don’t think it’s taken anything away from what we are doing or have done in the last week.
It has reminded me that things can change quickly. For all the athletes here we are on edge and some may feel this more than others. Back in 2000 I missed out and was ruled out of selection. I appreciate what it’s like to miss out on your dream. I understand the feelings of disappear if and when the time comes and the reality of all the hard work, the motivation, aspiration comes crashing down. The week and next our rowers are being tested to find the best combinations. Tested to find the best performers. Tested to hopefully pick the best people for the best boats now and for in London. Have been and having missed I know in part both sides of the score.
As athletes this is our life and as such it is raw, real and intense. This can have both positive and negative impact on performance. I certainly know once I got injured in 2000 and it being a games year it weighed heavily on my mind. Tonight I sit in this cabin with Josh and we are passing the time and effectively waiting for our next chance to race. I think as I sit here that within a couple of hundred meters in any direction from our cabin are the whole squad of Australia athletes waiting too. I can only imagine the range of emotions, the levels of relaxation and anxiousness that maybe rising and failing all around us. Sure tonight’s not the worst. Prior to each race the levels hit there peaks. We are all elite athletes with various degrees of experience and certainly I see the purpose prior to each race yet the slight tension and dynamic flow of energy is quiet extraordinary. The thing is this is a quiet event. So these emotions only get magnified as the stakes go up. Having medals and Olympics ones for that matter on offer change the dynamic. We are still athletes waiting and getting ready but things shift. Having been through all this countless times I remind myself to be alert, to be ready, to imagine a bigger moment all the while staying composed and calm. The capacity to get the best out of myself and our crew and to balance performance standards we drive with what the future hold with competition for World class athletes for other Countries.
How we get graded then is firstly by time and by the crew we get to directly compare to being the World Champion light weight four. They are a great benchmark. Secondly via time we get compared to other categories with our best benchmark being the percentage of World Best time. Each catagory has its WB and as such we all get our percentage and then in a way we compare event to event. Conditions between raced can change but it’s a good way to see relativity for example between our four and the mens quad scull, the men’s eight, women’s double etc.
Here I am we have raced once and have another tomorrow. Overall I am excited about where we are at and even with the challenge of loosing Duncan out of the boat for trials we have managed to work really well together with another athlete from the squad, Tom Swann. I guess this the ultimate test of our mens squad. Being able to get on with things and make all our boats as fast as we can.
My last reflection over the last couple of days has involved thinking a lot about my family and the last few years. Things haven’t been easy. My wife thought three and a half years I was going to be seriously impaired when my back finally gave out in the shower two days after returning home. It actually makes me emotional even now as I write this. To be able to do this now is just so surreal at time. The stupid thing is tonight I found myself getting frustrated at a number of things. I don’t know just something’s today were getting making me pissed and frustrated. Some little things some things to do with the rowing and other that really have nothing to do with me. Stupid really as I know I am in the middle to selection and building up to these moments always has me getting more sensitive. So finally I just stopped and thought stuff me I can’t actually believe I am here after Beijing and feeling as good as I ever have and ready to fly, and yet my lack of appreciation just for my situation had me getting caught up in stuff that doesn’t matter.
This year is my 20 year reunion for my school crew and my final year at school. That means I have been rowing 22 years. It’s been 17 years of senior team selections. In the my 17th year I have had some good results and plan on more in the future but I have also gone swimming twice. Crashed twice. Flipped once. Blown up on the ergo a few times and even the test this week I thought I was right and sort of hit the wall with 600 to go. Funny that I feel as good as I ever have and am feeling great about the improvements ahead.
After all this time I no longer do weights and yet feel as strong as ever in the boat. I have done PBs this year and expect more to come. I feel like I am part of a great team which is set for something special in the months ahead. I have been the young kids dreaming of going to the games. Add to this I was fortunate to be part of an amazing crew and experience success as a young athlete. I am now an older athlete and at times still feel just as young and enthusiastic. Some times though I do feel older. This feeling does loose the luster. Not often but at times the experience feel less fresh. I think this is why at times I loose sight or sense of perspective. This is hard to explain and I may make a mess of it here.
The thrill of the race still holds me. The energy from engaging in this sport with great people in a meaningful way is something I still find captivating. The feeling of a boat going fast and the sense of timing and ease of movement within the crew is incredibly and tantalizingly satisfying. These things I enjoy and look forward to. These things I will miss when I eventually stop rowing. Creating and working together towards a pure team performance is very cool and I love the sensation of crafting it and shaping it into something so repeatable and well understood within that it becomes a bond, a fuel source and a reason to dig deep. There are other things less enjoyable and these do rub and frustrate at times.
Tomorrow we race again. Looking forward to seeing what we can do and what others produce.