It has been a fantastic few days for British rowing. In the first World Cup event of the season in Belgrade, the GB Rowing Team won 12 medals in Olympic classes – four golds, six silvers, two bronzes – the best ever result for a British team in a World Cup event. In doing so, we also sent a strong statement to every other country out there. Indeed, while it is still early days and we are not resting on our laurels, there are signs that this rowing team could be truly astonishing; the best Great Britain has ever put out. Here’s hoping.
Certainly my rowing partner Mark Hunter and I were delighted to notch another win in the lightweight double scull, holding off a slightly unexpected challenge from a new Greece team to take gold. We started the race fast, like we always do, seeking to establish control early, and held it together in the middle part of the race before holding on in a sprint finish.
It has been a hard few months of training so having postponed my 26th birthday celebrations – due to be held on 2 May – until after the final, I decided to let my hair down a little. Immediately after the race I had five burgers and eight slices of baklava to celebrate, then at the airport while the other guys had a beer or two I preferred a slice of chocolate cake. Of course we’re already back into hard training so the any weight I’ve put on will soon come off.
It’s always good to get the first race of the season out of the way because it’s sometimes hard to know precisely where you are in terms of training. Obviously you have a fairly good idea, but there’s nothing like the thrill and pain of six minutes of racing, flat out, heart beating like a drum, to find out for sure. We’ve done lots of fitness work over the past few months, so it’s good to know that all the hard work is paying dividends in racing.
So what next? Well, four years ago, we won every World Cup event in the run-up to the Olympics, before taking gold in Beijing, and that’s our plan this time around too. Being the best in the world brings certain pressures and obligations – we are expected to rise to the occasion and to consistently beat the best in the field. But Mark and I thrive on such challenges.
However while it was great to lay down a marker to show that we are fit, fast and strong, this year is all about London 2012.