In the first in a series of blog posts from world champion rower Matt Gotrel he discusses just what it takes to make the cut...
In every season we have two very different phases. Like most sports - rowers have a winter training period and a summer racing period. Unlike most sports - we spend our winter months battling it out on a daily basis against our team mates.
Between these two phases there is a very clear point where it all changes. Final Trials.
Every year before the International season kicks off, the best of Britain's rowers have their own personal battles to fight. Forget representing our country, first we have to race our friends, colleagues and the lads we spend 350 days of every year with, and not just race them - you have to want to beat them. The one problem with this is that we have more athletes than we do seats in boats. The selection for the coming season can hinge on one race, behind closed doors, where no one will see how small the margins are between making a boat and being sat on the sidelines watching your teammates stand on the podium.
Photo Credit - Naomi Baker
It may be quite strange for me to start my series of blogs with this subject, but it is only because we have recently had our trials, and the emotions are still very much fresh in my mind. This year, Olympic Year, raises the bar. It’s bad enough racing for your seat for the World Championships every year, but in the 3 years preceding ‘Olympic Year’ you know you don't have to get it right, you have another year of racing and training to improve. But this year there is no more time, if you don't get it right now thats it - for another 4 years, and for some they will never reach an Olympic Games. So it’s fair to say that tensions run pretty high, and to make matters worse we spend 2 weeks prior to the trials on training camp - living in each others pockets and training with each other every day for the toughest test of our season. When I say that, I genuinely believe the hardest part of every season is getting selected for the boat. There is a reason why the Great Britain Rowing Team is so successful, because we have unbelievably talented athletes in this country and the competition for places is what drives us to keep improving, the ones that miss out will keep pushing. So if you don't improve you get left behind.
You know once you have been selected, the hardest part is done. Next, its all about making boats go fast and trying to ensure that “God Save The Queen” becomes the soundtrack to as many medal ceremonies as possible. We have a huge amount of respect for each other, there are no grudges held. The trials and tribulations of the previous weeks are quickly put to one side and its back to being mates; one team, with one goal - Being the best we can be.