An Upstream Battle

James Foad | Apr 17th, 2012
An Upstream Battle

Thanks to David Lloyd Leisure clubs, many athletes across the UK aiming to compete at the Olympics this year in London are benefiting from the use of excellent gym facilities, pools and jacuzzis/saunas, which are great in aiding our recovery after tough, gruelling sessions.


I'm James Foad, part of the GB Rowing Team, and I am one of the lucky athletes that David Lloyd Hampton supports. As this is my first blog, I'll start by telling you a little about myself and my sporting history.


I've been training full-time as part of the GB Rowing Team’s heavy eight men's squad since 2009. In these few years I've been lucky enough to be part of, possibly, the strongest rowing team ever and have earned two silver medals at World Championships in 2010 and again in 2011, as well as numerous World Cup medals in the men's coxed eight.


It took many years to get where I am today, a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifices just like any athlete.


I started rowing at the age of 12 in my hometown of Southampton; I was always going to be involved in rowing as it runs in my family.


My grandfather, father, uncles, brother and even my mum have rowed or still do. It was great to be part of a club that had such a great family atmosphere. It has also made my life slightly easier at this stage, as these people who have been involved so much in my rowing career understand what is required of me and what it takes, so they accept the fact I won't be around that much this year.


As an individual I've endured a hard road since the World Championships 2011, suffering a back injury at the beginning of November and then not being able to row again until the end of January.


During this time I had to spend a lot of time at David Lloyd Hampton on a rehab programme of mainly swimming and hours on a cross-trainer. But without the use of the gym, I would have struggled to keep my fitness and improve it further.


I actually felt that after I recovered fully from my back injury, I had improved my fitness massively; I was hungry to get back rowing and racing. Having missed so many assessments through the winter the pressure was on for me to perform at every hurdle laid out by our head coach, which so far I have done.


Last month has been by far the most stressful; we work in an environment where we have to work as a team, day in day out, however there then comes a point where you have to put  friendship aside and race for your place in an Olympic boat.


We started this on a training camp in Portugal, rowing in pairs that our head coach had put together based on previous testing we had done. Luckily for us we were spoilt by beautiful calm water and bright sunshine, which always make those cold dark days go by much easier and make rowing so much more fun.


After two weeks of working on our tans and a bit of rowing we returned home for GB Rowing Team’s final trials. These were held at Dorney Lake, Windsor, where the Olympics will be held in the summer. As a team we took the opportunity as a practice

run, staying at the hotel we will stay at during Games time and familiarising ourselves with travel arrangements to the course, all of which are vital to know beforehand and could help towards the 'home' advantage.


Racing for myself and my pairs partner went well; we just missed out on automatic qualification to the top final, but dominated in our semi-final which we won comfortably. As for the final, we were there and it's where we needed to be. It was a hard fought race; extremely close and unbelievably exciting to be part of. We finished 5th, missing out on 4th place by 0.002 seconds! And you can watch the race by following this link


For now, we go back to hard training, more racing against each other, this time in coxless fours and see how the results pan out.


If you want to follow what we do more closely you can do so via twitter @james_foadGBrow


Read an interview with James on




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