Here we go again. Another year of building up to the biggest sporting event in the world. Another winter of relentless training sandwiched by trials and testing against the great friends you spend every day with, for a finite number of Olympic seats. Another opportunity to get it right. To go that little bit faster. To communicate a tiny bit better. To build a stronger, more cohesive team. The first set of athletes to be able to take the learnings from one Olympic year straight into another. Same same but different.
We are two weeks back into centralised training and it is exactly that – same same but different. We are still on the water, but different water – a river rather than the Caversham Lake. We still get to train as a team, but socially distanced outside of the boat, and not a whole team physically together, but three groups in two locations. We are still hyper vigilant about hygiene and aware of our physical states, but now any minor ailment means home training until covid tests are clear. We are still the GB rowing team, but a few keys faces have moved on.
At the start of this Olympic season I am the same person as last year, but different. To me that is a good thing, I hope that I am always changing and developing through experiences and learning over time. I have now been married for a year, finally changed my surname and got used to sharing my bed with a 6’6’’ South African. I am more aware of the fragility of life and that we cannot predict what might happen one day to the next. I am more confident that I am good enough to be part of this team and that my presence adds value. I am more grateful for each time I get to do a session on the water, or alongside a teammate in the gym.
I cannot control whether the Olympics go ahead much in the same way as I cannot control what another crew might do in a race.
I have been asked a number of times for my thoughts on the rescheduled Olympics being cancelled. Honestly, I am not giving it much brain space. It may be one of many possible outcomes for next summer, but I do not want to be sat on the start line feeling like I didn’t give my all to each training session because I was worrying about whether the event was going to happen. I cannot control whether the Olympics go ahead much in the same way as I cannot control what another crew might do in a race. But I can control the steps that I take to put myself in the best possible shape to be selected and race as well as I am able. And regardless of the outcome, I believe it is worth taking the risk, dreaming big and giving it my all.
I always start a season with goal setting, and the same is true of this season. You may have read previous blogs where I have articulated physical goals such as going to Tokyo, winning a medal etc. But despite the same goal setting practice, my difference this year is setting a goal that looks to the motivation behind the physical achievement. Something that cannot be measured but is the real reason behind having a goal in the first place. My goal for this year is to harness the power of sport to have a positive impact on people’s lives. To help others dream big and take risks. Or for those who are familiar with the work of Brene Brown, to live wholeheartedly in the arena and encourage others to do the same.
So yes we go again, another Olympic year. Same sport, same rules, but a different society, a different environment and a different challenge to be part of the only 5 year Olympic cycle in history. Same same but different.
Note: I plan to try and write monthly, sharing my journey through this exciting year with those of you who want to read it. If there is any aspect of athlete life that you would be interested to more about, please let me know.