Sunday, 24 May 2009


I don't think I've explained how much rowing is a part of my life. A five-times-a-week, makes-me-get-home-at-8pm, more-tear-provoking-than-anything-else part of my life. This summer will be the end of my fourth year rowing at my club on the Thames (or, as all rowers call it, the Tideway) and it's amazing how far I've come from the midday beginners' group on Sundays. My fellow team mates and I routinely train through blood, sweat and tears-quite literally-in order to be the best we can be. There are times when, coming home after a particularly hard session, I cry my eyes out due to exhaustion and a sense of not having performed to my best, and wonder why I put myself through it; there are times when, caught in a hailstorm on a river with waves that would put the English Channel to shame and a headwind howling at my back, I want to throw my oars away and say, "ENOUGH already!" But through every midwinter ergo, every endless outing, every session that makes me feel life really isn't worth living, I didn't give up. And yesterday, at the National Schools in Nottingham, we were rewarded for that tenacity and determination to succeed.

Perhaps there are some crews out there who wouldn't be satisfied with a bronze. After all, that's two boats who rowed faster than us, two crews we didn't beat. But I know that all four of us who raced felt like we won on that rowing lake. We rowed to the best of our ability; we justified those months of training; we made our coach, who puts so much time and effort and trust into us, proud. The medal round my neck somehow didn't seem quite real-it didn't really sink in that all those hours of pain had culminated in this, that this was what we had trained for.

If I'm honest, it still hasn't.

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