For the last four years I have been keeping family, friends and sponsors updated on my rowing endeavors through updates/newsletters sent via E-mail. Now I have this website I might as well make use of it and the start of a new year seems a good time to start. If you are keen on keeping tabs on how my rowing journey is tracking then one, let me know what I did to kiss your ass, and two, use the form on the right to get a notification when I get around to the odd post. Suggestions of what you would like to hear about are always encouraged!
With the events of the last month, I couldn't be happier with how my rowing is tracking. I was pretty disappointed in September to find my name absent from this seasons Summer Squad announcement, although, not surprised. 9th in world in the lightweight double at the 2014 U23 Championships is something I have been told many times by friends and family that I should not be ashamed of. I believe that one of the key contributors to New Zealand's success in rowing on the world stage is the high standard set within our representative community. A standard I knew I didn't meet. It is also fair to say the standard I set for myself has always been pretty well up there and something I rarely achieve, but when I do, the feeling is like no other. This feeling is one of my key drivers.
This meant rotating back to the Waikato Regional Performance Center (Waikato RPC) for the 2014/2015 domestic season (NZ summer). RPC's are developmental teams that select rowers from clubs and schools in their region that demonstrate potential and help them to develop to a position where they can fight to claim the seat of one of their representative counterparts. The average age group in these teams seems to get increasingly younger as the standard for the rowers that can not longer race age group (U22 & U20) is becomes increasingly higher (this demographic is also reflected in our national squad). From once being the young buck when I first made the WRPC in 2010/11, I am now one of only two in the squad that are elite (old bastard that cannot row age group).
Going backwards on our representative pathway made me critically access my rowing and what I was doing. The result was to literally change the way I thinking, as well as making key changes to my technique. I back myself to be the strongest lightweight in NZ when it comes to the lifting weights (I enjoy putting the heavyweights through their paces where I can as well). Although I have a long way to go before my fitness is at the same level as the likes of Peter Taylor who has 8-9 years more training behind him, I believe my engine to be pretty reliable for 22. What has been the main hindrance to my performance is what I am doing upstairs. We all know I am bat shit crazy. I just need to be bat shit crazy in a way that makes me go fast, every time.
Through working with a few key people like my current coach Gary Roberts and psychologist Rod Corban, who I have access to thanks to High Performance Sport New Zealand, I am making progress. I still have a long way to go before I will be close to Shaolin Monk level but my performances over the last month would suggest I am on the right track. One such indicator was at first regatta of the season where I was up against my Summer Squad counterparts. In the premier single all the lightweights were in the B-final together and (to my surprise) I claimed honours, beating all other lightweights including London Olympic bronze medalist Peter Taylor. In the double I teamed up with a very talented rower, Southern RPC's Hayden Cohen, who also did no gain re-selection for the summer squad and is the only elite from his RPC. In the heat we placed 0.5 secs behind our Summer Squad counterparts but managed to turn it around in the final, just , by 0.3 of second ahead of them and not to far off some very successful heavyweights (results here). Another indicator was setting a new personal best in the single for 5km's by 15 seconds, despite it being the 2nd of the two 5km time trials we did in that session.
In sport I find you are only as good as your last race (someone say something about high standards?) and from here I need to back up my performances at every opportunity I get between now and the national selection trials in the first week of March. I know that the Summer Squad athletes have a lot more cards left to play and that we have 2km erg testing coming up on the 12th which is a test I have always struggled to perform in a way that reflects my on water ability, but for the first time in a long time I am eager to take these challenges on. Thanks to having one of the best support teams around me that I could ask for I am happy with where I am at and find myself smiling when reflecting.