No slowing down
I mentioned in my last blog how March was such a stressful month of the year for all the team, with final trials fast approaching. However, it felt like this continued into the start of April, as we prepared ourselves to race each other once again, in a period known to most rowers as 'seat racing'.
This year the team were split into three coxless fours where we race each other for specific seats in specific boats. During a day we will have anywhere from two to six races, between each race athletes will be swapped in and out of boats in an effort to see who makes a boat go fastest (I think this is the simplest way of putting it: it's a very complicated system that can boggle a rower’s mind, let alone people who know very little about rowing, so trying to describe it is even more of a nightmare!). Personally, I find the best way of dealing with the situation is to stay as calm and relaxed as possible and not think about the 'what if' scenarios.
On the second day of seat racing, in the first race of the day, I rowed in the losing boat, which lost by about 6-7ft. For the second race I was swapped with my opposite number in the boat that just beat us. Here I was: this was 'my seat race', one of the biggest and most important races of my rowing career, that would probably decide if I would be selected in the Men's 8 at the start of the Olympic season, this was the boat I wanted to be in, and I had to win by more than 7ft!
We fly off the start, in my mind I'm thinking back to previous years when perhaps I'd wanted it too much and overworked my rowing, therefore not getting the best out of myself. So I sat up, stayed within what I thought was a comfortable range and rowed to the best of my ability. It paid off as we crossed the line about half a boat length up.
A few days later all the Men's rowing team were invited into a room by our head coach Jurgen Grobler. I'm not going to lie, it's a tense moment - for some, dreams start to come true for others, hearts are broken. I feel what makes it worse is that there is not really one person in that room who isn't good enough to be selected, but the hard truth is, there just aren't enough seats in boats for everyone to be selected. For me, this is the part of rowing you need to remember all year, it's the part that keeps you on your toes: you slow down in any way and someone will take your place. My dream had started to become reality as Jurgen selected me for the first two World Cup regattas of the season. A great start for my Olympic campaign.
The official announcement followed by a release of Team GB kit, quite an exciting time when you've just been selected for a British boat and your likely to be competing in London. If I'm to be totally honest, I was initially a little disappointed with the design, but the more I see it, the more it grows on me and the more excited I get about the prospect of wearing it later this year. Hopefully, it will separate us from other nations and show how strong Team GB is. At the end of the day, it's not going to look complete unless it has a Gold medal to go with it!
As I'm writing this, we are approaching the end of our first training camp as the GB Men's 8 in Varese, Italy. Everything that has happened this month feels like a life time ago, however we have had a strong start to our campaign. It's amazing to be part of such a diverse group of people, from different backgrounds that work so well together. For the moment it seems that everyone involved in the 8 is having fun with it. I hope it continues like this for the next few month, as it feels like everyone is getting the best out of themselves and making the boat move fast.
You can watch the first World Cup Regatta of the series on the BBC red button between 4th May 2012 - 6th May 2012. Followed by the second World Cup Regatta on the red button between 25th May - 27th May. Official team announcement for the Olympics will be on 6th June 2012. Also keep up to date by following me on twitter @james_foadGBrow.