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02/20 2009

First Row Back

ROWINGRight now, I’m not training full time. I justify this fact in two ways: My body needs the rest, and my family needs the money. Although both may be true, there is no avoiding the higher truth: neither excuse is getting me closer to winning an Olympic Gold Medal in 2012. Any of you remember my first CBC TV interview after crossing the finish line in Beijing? I hadn’t even been given my Silver Medal and the reporter asked if only training for one year cost us the race. Well – a few more years could’ve helped – thanks for asking though. That’s what’s referred to as a ‘total buzz-kill’.

For those of you not directly in the high performance sport world – “desk-jockeys”, if you will – you will know how hard it is to actually get to the gym in the middle of the work day. Other things become more important. To combat this, I have started developing the “team” approach. A group of us run the seven hills of Rockland (a very hilly part of Victoria) every Friday. Another group has developed a weekly squash tournament at the Victoria YMCA. Both are great ways to have fun while staying somewhat in shape. Neither is enough to win an Olympic Gold Medal.

To extend the “team” theory further, and to raise the ante a bit, I gave Kevin Light – 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist, Men’s Eight (8+), Rowing – a call last week. I asked him to go for a row with me. You see, the primal function of a team training environment is to teach you to never to let your team-mate down, and to never be at the back of the pack. After setting up a Saturday morning row with Kevin, I knew it would happen no matter what.

So, on Saturday morning, I went for a row with Kevin in a pair. There was no one else on the water (intentionally – so there was no pack to be at the back of). This was the first time I had rowed since the Olympic final in August. Although our performance on Elk Lake wouldn’t have won either of us a medal, it was great to be back on the water.

We pushed off the dock, and apart from the first few awkward stokes, I was pleased at how quickly it all came back. About 20 strokes off the dock I wished that I had made a technical plan – in order to stop some of my poor rowing habits from returning – but I soon began to just enjoy the experience.

There was a strong wind coming from the north, which pushed us down the course once we reached the water ski beach on Elk Lake (a.k.a. Point One to the Canadian National Team). The wind gave us the sensation that we were going fast – without having to pull all that hard. I didn’t earn a single blister. We decided to touch both ends of the lake, and call it a day – a tease, a taster!

We are going to support each other to increase the frequency of our rows. Who knows – before long I might even be rowing every day again.


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