Friday, 29 April 2011

The Royal Wedding

Two very unusual things happened today, a Royal Wedding and I was given 4 x £5 notes out of the cash machine.  As most people in the world will know, today was the marriage of William and Kate - but for those outside the UK, you won't know that coming across a cash machine with £5 notes in is very rare.

My Auntie Marie is also having a surprise birthday party in Leeds tonight.  She thought she was going to Karaoke, but thankfully she won't be hitting the mic and instead will be hitting the Irish Centre.  Due to training I wasn't able to make the journey up, but I'm sure it won't be noticed too much as my granny will be tearing up the dance floor like a JCB.  As with any girl over the age of 21, they don't really like to let their age be known so I won't spill the beans (all I will say is that it begins with a 5 and ends in a 0).

I've had a tough week racing and certainly feeling very drained now.  I will be able to update further over the next week or so.

And finally, any readers called Will or Kate will be pleased to know that they can get into London Zoo for free at any point over this long weekend.  It's all part of the Zoological Society of London celebration of the Royal Wedding.  Hopefully Prince Harry will marry someone called Nathaniel...

Friday, 22 April 2011

BBC physio profile

Here is a link to a BBC video and article on the Judo lead physio Ben Ashworth.  I used to be treated regularly by Ben at the EIS facilities at St Mary's in Twickenham.  A great physio and a good laugh.  This might give you a small insight into the type of work Team GB physio's do on a day-to-day basis and how intergral they are to keeping us training harder and harder each day.

Busy Week

[I'm on the left, in the UL first eight a few weeks ago]

For some reason this week has been pretty busy, I had been expecting it to be a bit of calm before the storm. 

On Wednesday I had a medical screening; we have screening at reasonably regular intervals to make sure any possible injury risks are highlighted - and therefore pro-actively addressed before they cause any major damage.  My last test was at the start of the season (three days after an epidural), thankfully I scored a lot higher than last time but it did highlight some inaccuracies that I've already started to address.  Later in the day I had physio and then massage.  My friend Kara came round for dinner - we had wild salmon on tagliatelle with creme fresh, broccoli and leek, served with a side salad  - very nice.

Yesterday I had a full day's training and then met up with Penny and Kate from Threshold Sports to help put some things together for my sponsor's - Atos Origin.  We did some Q & A and generally had a good chat by the river in Richmond.

As per usual, I was training today at 7:30am, we had three sessions plus a core/stretching session with one of our team physio's.  Once training finished I went to chat with our physiologists about all the data they had on me and general interest in how that correlates to my training - I find all that stuff pretty interesting.  I then saw our physio Sally for a quick once over my back, to check that things are moving well and keep progressing.

Feel free to leave any comments or ask any questions.  For those of you that would like to be kept upto date with what is going on, you can enter your email in the box to the left and it will send you an automated email each time I make a post (the email will contain the update I have written.  I hope everyone is enjoying the weather this Good Friday.

Monday, 18 April 2011

GB Final Trials Day 2

All in all the weekend's trials performance was a disappointment; I came 2nd in the B-Final.

Our pair didn't really settle over the 10 days of preparation and was always searching for the harmony needed to produce strong speed.  Racing was really quite tight and so any weakness, any mistakes, cost you straight away, there was no room for error.  The spread over the top 8 pairs was 7 seconds on finals day (as far as I can tell it was very similar conditions between the two separate finals).  At the 2010 World Championships Andy and Pete (the top GB pair) won a silver medal, bronze was 6 seconds behind.  The strength in the team is deep.

There will be further seat racing in 10 days time that will help shape the squad for the first race of the World Cup series.  It will be really important for me to demonstrate this is a blip in what had been a strong forward momentum. 

To top the weekend off, it took me 3 hours to get home from what should have been a 40 minute journey.  I was stuck stationary for nearly two hours, as a result the L-reg car blew up.  So the hunt for a car begins...

Saturday, 16 April 2011

GB Final Trails Day 1

Today was the first day of trials.  Tom and I came 7th in the time trial and 4th in our semi final; that means we missed out on the A-final by one place and will be racing the B-final tomorrow.  Bitterly disappointed, racing was tight and small margins make or break your position.  The priority for now is to prepare for tomorrow's final...

P.S. Happy Birthday to my brother Paddy

Friday, 15 April 2011

GB Final Trails tomorrow

Tomorrow will be the start of the GB final trials.  This is the last open assessment of the 2011 season.  Racing is in pairs and singles over 2000m at the London Olympic course at Dorney.

I'm just chilling tonight in preparation for the racing.  Tomorrow will be a 1900m time trial followed by the semi-finals in the afternoon.  Sunday morning will be the finals.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Anti-doping (and still in Italy)

A couple of photo's of Tom and I in the pair.

Last night our team doctor (Lady Ann) gave the annual anti-doping lecture.  Each year we are told what changes have been made to the World Anti-Doping Code, the procedures relating to dope testing and any other related matter.  Rowing is generally a clean sport, several of the Russian team was caught cheating in about 2006 (I think), since then I havn't heard of any other major offences.  The penalty for doping is very high in British Olympic sports.  For any offence, whether you "meant it" or if it was an accident means a life-time ban from competing at the Olympics. 

Not all Olympic associations have such a strict rule, it would be harsh for an individual if their drink was spiked or supplements contaminated but is without doubt the stance that should be taken against active cheats.  I don't know why Dwain Chambers still has sponsors, why he is invited to wider sporting events (such as Sport's Personality Awards) or is even tolerated by those in athletics.  I would personally hound him out of the sport, there is no place for people like him - he is no role model.  He wasn't even good at cheating, but that was more to do with his attitude, I remember him pulling up in some high level 100m final for "cramp".  If he had cramp then fair enough, but the replays showed everyone was going through him and he could do nothing about it; he glances either side of himself, realises he is beaten (he was one of the favourites) and then pulls up.  At the time I thought it looked like he had bottled it, it may be unfair to infer that from that incident - only he and possibly those immediately round him know the truth.

Anyway, doping is something all serious athletes need to pay attention to and GB rowing ensures we are upto date and in the know.  There is a strict personal liability, it's your business.

Weather is still hot here, my birthday tomorrow so hopefully it will cool abit so it feels abit more like home!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Varese Camp - half day

It's sizzling hot out here - mid to low 30's - giving me a good vitamin B boost and a chance to top up my farmers tan.  The weather has also helped me kick cold/throaty sort of stuff that has been bugging me for the past month or so.  It's not all positives though, the heat drains you pretty easily and I need to be well on top of my hydration - both during the day and at night.

I'm currently training in a pair with Tom Ransley.  We will be racing at the GB Final Trials on the weekend of the 16th/17th April.  Training has been going reasonably well, we seem to go alot better when the chains are off and we just get racing.  Technically I have been working on a couple of things; the general length of my stroke coupled with a strong dynamic second half to my drive phase.

The wind in Varese can kick up pretty large rolling waves - big enough to give a couple of our single scullers an early bath!  Due to the weather, the session we did this morning had to be delayed, but we were able to crack on with it after waiting it out 60 mins.

My back has needed a little attention from the physios, as has been feeling aggravated and slightly vunerable.  Thankfully that seems to have significantly settled and is starting to feel stronger.

It was the Grand National yesterday and I was part of two sweepstakes; one at home and one here with the guys on the team.  I didn't do well in either - my horse in the squad sweepstake actually broke it's neck at the 4th hurdle (Ornais) - hopefully this isn't an omen.

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Sunday, 3 April 2011

Eight's Head

Yesterday was the Eight's Head, held on the River Thames from Mortlake to Putney (the boat race course in reverse), it's the second biggest sporting event held in London (for participation numbers - London Marathon being the first).

I was rowing in the UL first eight, my brother Ben was in the UL lightweight eight.  I'm sat at "7" - second rower from the left.  My crew finished 17th overall.  The race itself went ok, some scrappy patches that will have cost us a little bit of time.  The final position is alright, top 15 was really the aim.

This lunchtime I'm heading off to Varese, Italy for our final training camp before the GB Final Trials (16th/17th April).  I will be in the pair with T-dogg again (Tom Ransley to his mum).  It will be a chance to practice our skills, develop our speed and finalise our race plan for the trials ahead.