Thursday, 23 June 2011

400 Days to Go!

As you can see from the countdown clock on the left, today is 400 days until the Olympics.  Time is ticking on and each day of preparation is important.  St Mary's R.C. Primary were marking the day today and here is a short series of clips from other GB Rowing Team members made especially for them.

[Featuring Alan Campbell, Steve Rowbotham, Adam Freeman-Pask, Craig Williams, Jess Eddie, Alex Gregory and Caroline O'Connor - thanks for their participation]

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Day off & building for Henley Royal - Oh and Happy Father's Day!

Today was a day off, it's been a while so it was nice to have a break.  It's been a mixed week and so good to get some time to prepare for the coming weeks.  Henley Royal will be our next race, our event is packed with talent - our first race will be against either Germany, Australia or USA (the gold, bronze and 6th place crews from last year's World Championships).

I had a great nap yesterday afternoon, much needed. I then had dinner with my brother Ben, Louise and my housemate James.  Louise cooked a great Terry&Aggy Chicken thing.  This morning I went coaching and then went to Women's Henley for a picnic lunch.  Above is a picture from my day, I'm there with Sarah, Kara and Louise [L to R].  James was taking the photo, good job really as he has a face for radio.  After a couple of hours by the river, and numerous duck attacks, I headed home to relax.  After mentioning Henley Women's there are invariably many "poo-sticks" and "competitive drifting" jokes, today I will refrain.

As anyone who has passed a Clinton's Cards in the last week will know, today is Father's day.  I am lucky to have a great dad who has done so much for me and all my brother's and sister's.  It would be nice to have our training centre closer to home as it would mean I could see my family more; I get to see Ben more often (he is studying in London and also rows for ULBC).  My dad was the one who got up early on school days to take me to training before lessons started, my dad was the one who was/is always in my corner, my dad is more of an influence on me than I would ever had imagined (for better or worse!!).  There are four other "Fathers" that have had a distinct influence on me and how I am.  My grandfathers, John Reilly and Patrick O'Donnell - both victims to cancer, both so much more than that.  JR took me to my first ever Sunderland game and encouraged my interest in sport, POD had genuine physical strength I am yet to see any Olympic athlete match in the gym.  In a paragraph I can't do justice to their stories, but they are regularly in my thoughts.  Two other "Fathers" that have shown me great support are Fr Corbett and Fr Hayden; they were my local parish priests as I grew up but are so much more than that to our family (Fr C is now based in Newcastle).  Fr Corbett was my sponsor when I was confirmed and he recently celebrated 40 years as a priest, he must be cracking on a bit now, but there are no signs of it showing.  Fr Hayden is calm, considered and, like Fr C, has a great sense of humour - a truly good man.

I best go, training starts again at 07:30, lots of sleep stops the wheels falling off.  Feel free to subscribe to blog posts on the left or leave comments below.

Oh nearly forgot, congratulations to Gina and Alex Partridge who became first time parents to Eva Florence!  Great Fathers Day gift!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Update and Henley plans

I raced in the Diamond Challenge Sculls last year at Henley, this year I will be racing in the eight.

As I've mentioned, the GB team has pulled out of the Hamburg World Cup as the risk of ecoli is too high; some other teams have also pulled out since we announced our withdrawal and the Germans have insisted there is no risk to athletes.  That means two things 1) we will get beasted at home instead 2) Henley Royal Regatta is our next chance to race.

The eight is going well and we are progressing on a few fronts, hopefully gaining the necessary edge to overturn any opposition.  I feel I have made some good personal improvements but still need to apply this on a more consistent basis.

Henley Royal is a unique event; for those who haven't been, you will no doubt have connotations of hoorah Henry's and dusty WASP farts. There is no denying that those stereotypes exist, but Henley is so much more than that.  We will be racing in the Grand Challenge Cup, the blue ribband event. We will be racing against the fastest eights in the World - side by side, Mano et Mano.  For the athletes involved it will be one of the most electric feelings you will ever get, as a result I'm getting goosebumps as I write.  If you are available you should get yourself down on the 29th June - 3rd July.  It's held in the centre of Henley and tickets for the Regatta Enclosure can be purchased here or you can watch the whole thing for free by finding a spot along the river bank. Due to high numbers of drunken chavs and rowdy toffs, Saturday night is not a family environment.  Any other time it's a fantastic way to relax and watch some really world class racing is a fun and carnival atmosphere.  I hope to see some of you there!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Pulling out of Hamburg

Last night GB Rowing announced that all GB crews would be pulling out of the Hamburg World Cup (meant to be in 10 days time).  There has been a significant outbreak of Ecoli in Germany, originating in the Hamburg region.  With one of the symptoms of ecoli being death, it's a serious thing to consider.  If anyone caught anything like ecoli, it could very easily end up being the end of their Olympiad.

Plans have been changed and we will look to make just as good a use of our time.  I don't know to exact plan yet, but I am assuming Henley Royal will be the next chance to see the men's eight race.  It's disappointing not to be racing at this event, but there will plenty of other opportunities ahead.

Without doubt we have one of the best support structures in the sport, and all athletes in the team never have to worry about things like this as the right decision is often made.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Hard week plus O2 and London Youth Games


I've had a pretty tiring week post Munich World Cup.  We got straight back into training but certainly had to tough it out towards the end of the week.  As I've mentioned before, your body can react in funny ways after hard races, particularly when racing over a few days.  I was in a bit of a bad way, but kept recovering enough to make it to training the next day.  There is a strong sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when you're tired and ill but still able to plough on.  The light on the horizon was the day off on Sunday, without that I'm sure I would have crumbled quicker than a digestive.  Along with training I had two events to attend this week.

On Thursday evening I went straight from training to an O2 employee event at Battersea Park.  I've recently taken up an offer from O2 for work experience in their legal team, admin stuff is still going through but I hope to start in the next week or two (more about all this in a later post).  The event was for management from all branches of the O2 family, looking towards the next 12 months and how O2 wants to develop in that time.  I have found that anyone to do with O2 is unbelievably positive about the company, and from what I can see there is good reason - lots of positive stuff, particularly for customers, will be rolling out over the next few months.  I met and spoke to quite a few people, I also joined in the 1 minute ergo challenge that was going on - hopefully I still had the top score at the end of the night (if I didn't then I will look like a right mug).  It was particularly good to chat to Ronan Dunne, the CEO at O2, a nice guy with a great knowledge of sport.

On Saturday I had my second event of the week, which was probably my second event of the year come to think about it.  After training, I shot across London to the Royal Docks by London City Airport.  The Thames Water London Youth Games Regatta (catchy title) is a competition held each year between all the London boroughs as part of the wider Balfour Beatty London Youth Games; points are won for the borough in each event, with an overall borough champion named at the end of the games.  I was there with Andy Triggs-Hodge, who is sponsored by Thames Water.  While there I met up with Amanda from Atos Origin (who provide a bursary to aid my training to 2012), it was great to chat to her again and will hopefully see her at Henley Regatta this year.  Andy and I gave out the medals to the winning crews.  Each person celebrates a victory in their own way, some were very smiley and excited to receive the medal; others were more stoic.  Every village has it's idiot and every Olympic champion has a super fan.  Well Andrew Triggs-Hodge met her in East London on Sat 4th June 2011.  I don't know her name, but she won the girl's single scull event.  As her win was announced she jumped from the floor (from a cross-legged position, and didn't use her hands!), ran [arms flapping] to the steps of the stage.  As she climbed up the steps she squealed to Andy - "Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God, I follow you on Twitter" (with various excitable noises).  Andy laughs nervously and the girl nearly collapses with joy.  Nearly forgetting her medal, she leaves quicker than she got up there.  All in all a good day and a great story for the lads down at Caversham.

Surprisingly, I know a lot of people missed out on Olympic rowing tickets.  You can register on before midnight in France (11pm BST)  TONIGHT and you will have an exclusive 48 hours from June 13 to buy tickets on a first-come, first-served basis.  After the two-day window, the remaining Olympic tickets will be on general sale.  This is a genuine website and there is a further article on this on the Telegraph website today.