Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Thank You

Thank you to all those that have sent messages of support, an amazing response to the blog post - not expected at all.

I'm currently in Aviz on the pre- Olympic holding camp. Weather is hot and the boats are really gearing up. For the Games. I will bring more updates to try and give a flavour of the final preparations camp.

Feel free to comment or ask questions. You can find me day to day on Twitter @nrod2012.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

End to the Dream

The Olympic kit that never was.

Two days ago Jurgen told me that I hadn't made the final cut and wouldn't be in the 2012 Olympic Team.

I feel a whole spectrum of emotions; grief, shame but also pride.  I grieve for what could have been and the failure to reach the goal I set myself on the 6th August 2006, the day I became Junior World Champion.  I feel shame for those that I have let down; the family, friends and supporters who have been there during what is a very public process.  Beyond those emotions I also feel pride; the journey hasn't been easy, just this season I've overcome a serious back injury and a lingering virus.  Consequently, back in February I took beta blockers to settle an irregular heart rhythm and I questioned whether it was all over then.  But I made it back, I took risks, I dug in and endured the pain.  I didn't want to let go of the dream and I dared to be.  As to the final decision, I cant agree with it and the lack of process hurt.

I would like to thank those that have been so supportive.  My family - immediate and extended; there are only 7 "Reilly-O'Donnells" in the world, remember that name and if you come across one, brace yourself.  My Granny is just outstanding, I have amazing aunts and uncles and my cousins (each with their own story) inspire me.  To my girlfriend Louise, she has stuck by me even when I'm being "lame" and is a huge support; elements of her life have had to go on hold too, thank you for being so understanding.  My friends have been so understanding, right from school, people knew what rowing meant to me and many since have given me the space to go after my dream.  I'm a proud Catholic, Fr Corbett and Fr Hayden have been pillars to both myself and my family, thank you so much.  Those that have financially helped me - Atos (in particular Amanda, Colleen, Nicola and the Threshold girls - Sinead, Kate and Penny), Berry Chiswick BMW and the County Durham Community Foundation.  I would like to give a special mention to the lovely people at the CDCF, they have been my longest standing backers - particularly John Elliott of Ebac, who is an unbelievable force of nature, thank you John.  My clubs - I've been a member of two boat clubs, my school (St Leonard's R.C. Comp. Durham) and now my university (University of London Boat Club).  Those places changed my life.  Thank you to the coaches who have helped me at every stage Malcolm, Bill, Peter, Jamie, Big Steff, Stu, Pete, Rusty, Dan C., Andy, Brian, Christian, John, Thrust, Paul, Shep and Jurgen you have all shaped me.  A shout out to all those that have supported me through my clubs and those that have aided me through medical support.  It is also worth thanking those that have offered me employment to help me cover the costs (and gain experience) to follow my dream thank you to Tyrian Club, Putney Town RC and most recently Telefonica UK (O2).  I have also been the recipient of a Lottery Funded UK Sport grant, it makes a serious difference thank you.

I will be running with the team until the eve of the Games.  The guys are a great group, each with their own stories, each with their own qwerks.  Over the past four years I have loved the spirit within the team, we are a real unit with a great sense of humour.  I know what each of them has done and they all deserve to succeed in front of a stunning home crowd.

As to my future, I am still to decide.  I have the desire to win at an Olympic Games, but I have to look to other options too.  Im a highly numerate law graduate seeking a new and exciting challenge, find me on LinkedIn or Twitter if you think I could make a difference.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Camp life

So what do I do in my spare time while 1,900m up a mountain?

Sleep is a quick answer.  We come to train at altitude to work the body harder - we don't train any more than normal, but the lack of oxygen has a significant effect on the body.  The day starts with a 7:30 breakfast (a lie-in compared to my usual 6am!).  We then have our first session at 8am, lasting for about 2 hours.  We then head into second breakfast with a gap for a 40min power nap before the second session. Second session will probably be slightly shorter than the first and it then leads into lunch for about 1pm.  Then I can get another short nap aswell as read a book or watch some TED videos I've saved to my iPad.  3:30pm tea followed by the third and final session (2 hours again).  Dinner starts at 6:30pm and there is a chance to catch up on the internet for about an hour afterwards.  Bed by 9:30pm.

We stay in log cabins - a bed, running water and that's about it.  If only we had wifi.

I would say I find stuff on the internet every day that makes me want to tell someone else about it.

[As mentioned above] Recently I've really got into watching TED talks.  I've been known to YouTube surf, and TED allows me to do a similar thing, while feeling a bit more intellectual about it!  I would say I have a 75% hit rate for being "seriously impressed" by the ideas and projects on TED.

I read a fair amount of online news content and comment.  I've found my iPad has been great for this.  I have a standard set of sites I look at each day, and then let the content take me to further sites to learn more.  Specifically the BBC, Telegraph, Sun and Bloomsburg cover most bases.

A couple of weeks ago my mum (yes my mum!) was able to tell me about something I hadn't come across before.  The site is  Kiva is a crowd-source lending site designed to help individuals and small businesses fund expansion.  The site is primarily focused around projects in poor and developing nations.  How does it work?  You can browse hundreds of projects - e.g. help Joseph buy more cows for his herd in Kenya - and then, if you are capable and willing, you lend Joseph a proportion (from $25+) of his target fund.  You receive no interest on the loan, but you will be repaid according to a strict repayment schedule.  My mum's school sold produce from their vegtable patch, they then used the profit made to help fund farmers across the world.  A help up rather than a hand out.  Amazing platform that can do some real tangible good.

Another crowd-source funding site that's worth a look is Kickstarter.  This is generally a site where design start-ups look to build an order book large enough to go into business and production.  Some great gadgets and innovative ideas - worth a look, just to see what is up-and-coming.  Esty is a site selling similar types of things, but you can order there and now rather than wait for the start-up to be formed.

For a laugh then look to David Thorne or - a fair amount of content, but not regularly updated.  Both have a great reviews from the team - prepare to spend a couple of days reading these.

Anyway, I best go.  Feel free to comment.