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.


  1. Only pride xx

  2. Head up high. Everyone from UL has always been proud of you and always will be.

  3. No shame, we have all been riding on the shoulders of a giant.

    We all need dreams but most of us are too frightened to to risk ourselves, we have shared this one with you and must also share the disappointment, but also give you new strength for the next chapter...breathe deeply and lets begin!

  4. Maximum respect to anyone that can put up with Caversham, the system, the process (or lack of) and pursue their dream. A tiny, tiny, select few out of a talented group of GB rowers make it and you have every reason to hold your head high.

    Best of luck in whatever you decide to do.

  5. No. Way.
    That's impossible... *speechless*

    But I know you have a great future ahead of yourself, so keep your head high and go for all the wonderful opportunities life will bring you. Good luck with whatever you do! x

  6. Well written. All the best, Alex H.

  7. Well done Nathaniel - still an amazing achievement.

  8. Hold your head high with PRIDE Nathaniel, for you have not stopped in pursuit of your goal. Not by or on your own accord.


  9. Noddy - well done on your achievement of getting this far and commiserations that you came so close to realising your ambition.

    You are a real inspiration to those around you. From your first class coaching for us at PTRC to the way you post about your disappointments and challenges on your blog with a maturity beyond your years.

    To come this far shows you'll have more successes in whatever path you may chose in life.

    Now, I seem to recall some words you told us in the Henley Boat tent after we got knocked out that seem appropriate to repeat back to you only I don't really think I can post them publicly on your blog. Something involving getting "knee deep"?

  10. Feeling your disappointment Noddy. Was always proud having you as a coach at PTRC and always will be. You brought my rowing and fitness on more than I thought possible. Will never forget the standing leg drives in a double!

    Good luck for the future.

    Tweedle dum (or was I tweedle dee?)

  11. Sorry to hear the news Noddy. You are a credit to all those you mention as having helped you along the way.

    We all have our disappointments and while this one must be huge, so to will be the lessons learned and experience gained which will hold you in good stead for anything you choose to do in future.

    You are a walking example of commitment, dedication and professionalism and it was a privilege to have you coaching us at PTRC.

  12. Noddy,

    Really sorry to hear that mate. At the end of the day, you've achieved some fantastic things both on the water and off. On the water, your record speaks for itself. On dry land you can bet that UL wouldn't be in the position in which it finds itself now without your (among others) continual hard work that I witnessed from almost five years ago to the present day.

    Best wishes,


  13. Massive bad luck Noddy. But best wishes from everyone at UL, we are all so proud of you and you are a true inspiration. Best of luck in whatever you do next, whatever it is I hope you will still make it down to the club.

  14. Very sorry to here the news but you're definatly good enough for rio!