Monday, 26 September 2011

Back to school

Tomorrow we start back training at Caversham.  Today feels a lot like the last day of the school holidays, except i haven't got a new uniform and my backpack has held-out for another year.

The time out has been really quite hectic.  The first half spent on holiday (see earlier posts) and the second half seeing family, friends and doing some work.

A week ago I did my first ever corporate conference speaking gig.  Atos provide a bursary to help with training related costs and they invited me to speak at the Best Western Annual Sales Conference - bit of a mouthful but it was an interesting event.  I find it intriguiging to hear what companies are upto and how they plan for the future.  My role was to chat about what I do day to day and how I play my part in a team.  I think I did ok, nobody walked out!

Last weekend I made it home [Durham] for a few days to see family.  It's rare that there is a gap big enough in the programme for me to go home, so it's always hectic meeting up with people I haven't seen in ages.  I picked up my Granny on the way up (she lives in Leeds) and made it just-in-time to pick up my little sister Emily from school.

On the way home we went to get Dad an early Birthday/Christmas present - ok very early Birthday/Christmas present.  That chat at home had been that Dad was impressed with what the Ipad could do, but he would never justify that expense to himself.  So Louise, Emily and I went to PC World.  It turned out the 3g model I wanted wasn't in stock, after umming and arrring Emily churps up "well there is Argos, I think you can get them in there".  The bloke at PC World looked a bit shifty and then laughed in a belittling manner, I said to him "I reckon you might", he said "no, they only do accessories".  Emily says - rather quietly now (obviously feeling a bit put out and embarassed) - "you know, I think they do them in Tesco now too", "are you sure Emily?" "I think so, but it might be ones that look like it".  Again, PC World guy says they don't do it, they just do accesories - no Apple products.  He also tells me what a great deal the next model up is.  We leave, I reckon I can get the one I want in Durham the next day.  Just to make sure, I run into Argos - low and behold Emily was right and the one I wanted was in stock!  I popped into Tesco to grab milk, boom Emily Reilly-O'Donnell strikes again - not only did they also have the one I wanted, but the accessories I couldn't get hold of in PC World were there too.  Nice one Emily, I should never have doubted you.

The weekend was busy but it was great to catch up with lots of people.  Between games of Angry Birds we made it to Beamish Wild for some high-ropes fun.

Posing "Asian style" as Ben put it - bit different from the usual "Irish Catholic" [below]

This last week has been as busy as the last.  I've been into O2 a couple of times; went to my first ever O2 Legal Meat Club meeting - lots of steak; met up with my mate Tom for dinner and drinks Thursday night; had a brief apprearance on Harley Street (I will talk about that next week) and Dan Richie (in my 8 at the World Champs) had his stag do in London this weekend.

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Thursday, 15 September 2011

Holiday after the Worlds

After the Worlds had finished I stayed out there and went to Venice with my girlfriend Louise.  It was a great place to visit, fantastic weather and enjoyed somewhere different.  Here are some photo's -

When in Venice you can't really not go on a Gondola, but at £80 a go I was expecting a bit more speed and less stinky chat - probably why I don't look totally excited there.

From Venice we went on to a place called Grado on the Med.  As soon as we arrived we realised it wasn't all that it said it was.  After avoiding a coach party of pensioners from Dusseldorf, we decided to not bother checking in and to make our way to an internet cafe.  We decideded to head back in the direction of Bled, with a couple of phone numbers for apartments in hand.  Luckily we struck gold with a great apartment and amazing hosts.  We did lots of water sports type stuff and had a great time. I got back on Monday and I've been into O2 the past few days.  Now trying to get some washing and admin done before I go to home via Stoke for the Atos event.

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Racing round-up

All of the Eight plus Christian, our coach.

So it's a couple of weeks since we have raced, lots has happened since then and soon I will need to hit the gym more often.  I've got a few things happening over the coming days including a conference with Best Western and Atos tomorrow and then heading on up home to see my family.

To the racing; the Eight is the biggest and fastest event in rowing, and an event that is becoming ever closer – meaning the margins between winning and losing, qualifying or not qualifying are closer than ever.  We had a consistent Championships with wins in the Heat and the Semi-final; sadly in the final we couldn’t quite make it to the front of the pack and came away with a silver medal.  The race itself was differcult due to choppy conditions in the second half, it meant making no mistakes and dealing with it as best we could.  It wasn't our greatest of rows, but we can't come away saying "if it wasn't for this or that we would have..." as second place is where we have been positioning all year.  A silver medal feels good, but our team is so successful and our ambitions are so high, that anything less than the win is a disappointment.  The winners of the event were the German Eight, they are a formidable force (world champions ’09, ’10 and ’11) but they’re not unbeatable – they just seem to be at the moment.  Placing in the top 7 at this World Champs automatically qualifies the boat for the Olympics – this is important as next year there is only one last qualification slot available.  It means the boat, but not the individuals, will be guaranteed a place on the start line in 2012.  For the next 11 months my sole aim is to gain a place on the Olympic Team.  If I do that, by trying my hardest and being the best I can be, I will be putting in the work to go for Olympic Gold.

If you missed the racing you can watch the semi-final here by scrolling through the clips at the bottom, the mens 8+ semi's are at the far right (we are semi-final 1).

You can watch the final on the BBC here  and you can watch Greg's video diary here (Greg sat 5 seats ahead of me).

Friday, 9 September 2011

On Holiday

Coming towards the end of my holiday in Europe.  I've been to Venice and been fleeced left right and centre (really nice place though!) and now back in Slovenia for some relaxing and adventure activities.  Check out my Twitter (@nrod2012) for day to day photo's and updates.  I will give a full round-up of the racing and holiday adventures once back in the UK next week.  I hear the weather is a bit pants back in the UK - gutted for everyone - I've been in shorts for the last two months #unlucky :-)

ps while I've been away Emily turned 10, she had a great day with lots of presents ("mainly clothes, bling and transylvainian families; all really good").

Friday, 2 September 2011

World Silver Medal

Yesterday we won a silver medal at the World Champs.  There is much to say but the most important thing is to thank all those that have helped and supported me on my journey so far.  I thank the numerous coaches and support staff - past and present; Atos; UK Sport/National Lottery; Ebac/County Durham Community Foundation; Siemens/GB Rowing; St Leonard's School; University of London Boat Club and all the friends and family that have been there through thick and thin. 

Today will be the first time in quite a while that I have a day off from training.  I will fill you in on this week in due course.  Have a great Friday.