Wish I had some wise words but no… All I got is straight up dialogue that tells me rowing is tough. And battles on the water bring things into sharp focus.
Today we race the final of the Munich World Cup. We won, but I feel less like a winner and more like a boy getting ready for more hardship. No joke we sat in the athlete area with the Belarus and GB guys and I felt like things have only begun. We had a win today but things need to be kept in perspective. All will go away and spend the next 5-7 weeks training like animals and London will become epic.
As for our race today we raced from start to finish with everything we could. On the surface it might look composed but like an old coach of mine used to say be like the duck. Cruising along on the surface while the legs below the surface are working a way furiously.
We are not that big or that strong so we have to row well. We can see the way others are rowing and can not get involved in fighting toe to toe on horse power. We are fast though. And can race hard and stick to a plan and this is a strength. We can be hit and happily get back up and say can we have some more. We have a simple approach race hard and then race some more.
We have made no secret of our intent to make the mens four race into a drag race. We want it to be fast. We aim for it to be aggressive and we are willing to push ourselves beyond our imposed limits to find a way to hold speed for as long as possible.
Why share this or mention this? I think between Lucerne and Munich we have shown our approach so no point hiding from mentioning it. I was involved in a drag race in 2008 and in 2007 in the pair. Its satisfying to race flat out from start to finish and feel you have nothing left. Not so much noting left as you cross the line but nothing left with 500 or 750 to go. This is the test. Rowing in a way that has you feeling like that around those marks and finding a way to keep going. It not technical or physical its pure willingness to hold to a standard of rowing which hurts like hell and yet is strangely enjoyable.
We are not playing any games and nothing is being held back, but in the way we are approaching it all like a game. I mean at this level its all on the line yet we have to be willing to sacrifice it all and let go. We have fun and we are cheeky. We are happy to put it out there and race of live beyond our means. Sure its obvious and I am sure in time our approach will be torn down but not today. Today it worked and in Lucerne it nearly worked. So why not in London?
This is easy to say after a win, but its something I feel is key. To succeed in London we sort of need to want it less. To care but careless. To push but push less and to create without trying hard. Damn this sound stupid but its lie the complete opposite is need to achieve whats desired.
Today was close all the way. I know in the weeks to come that GB, Belarus, Greece, and all others will train and prepare for their best in London. I also know that while some rise other fall. So where does leave us? We have to find a way to improve on our form here and Lucerne. We will need to lift and find more speed to ensure we stay completive and give us a chance at realising our dream like many others.
Why are we here? Well its a question we have asked ourselves and even today through action other have asked us. We are not here on a whim. Its not by chance. We have come to this point like a selective group of forces. Four athletes and a coach and yet those who influence us are many more. We are appreciative and respectful of all who help us and all who have shaped us. Our rowing is the making of many and yet only four of us get seen. We race with out fear and have a free sense of exploration in our approach. I think we are tapping into some revolutionary training which is providing an edge and when we are talking .5 – 1sec over 2000m any edge is welcome. We have become involved in a battle and yet the field is closing for the look of today’s results. I say battle not because I think we can associate really with war and those who have fought and lived or died but because its a simple analogue that feels like it fits but with out the reality of blood shed.
Over some 21 year of rowing I have enjoyed immersing myself in the history of the sport. I have been part of a few good rivalries and yet on this occasion, even short lived as it may be I have enjoyed the on water and off water experience. Post racing in Lucerne and here in Munich it has felt respectful and as if all athletes are enjoying the chance to race hard and see what comes. Today Alex Gregory and I talk about our son’s, both their names are Jasper. I have really enjoyed his rowing over the last few years and its just funny to think both our boys have the same name. Its just little things like that and being able to chat about life beyond the boat and oars which makes me reflect on what a great experience this all is.
Under no means do I feel comfortable with where we are at and I sure our competitors are the same. I have read a few things on twitter and in the papers about GB and Jurgen and how his crews have never really performed at the last World Cup before the games. I agree its hard as everyone wants to knock off the best and favourite crew. This year is no difference and as such we know we have won today but the games race is a long way off being decided.
From here we go back into training mode. My hope is the old body keeps on keeping on. Its not easy but I do love a challenge and to find a way to create our best performance come London is something I am loving. Plus tomorrow I will be back with my family in Italy and with the training load they will keep me in the right space to make the most of it.