Injury is a hazard to any athlete. For three weeks I have been recovering from a fractured rib. My coaches enjoy joking that it broke because I pulled hard for the first time in my life, I counter that it’s my immense leg drive that snapped the rib in two. The truth is much less dramatic, a simple overuse injury from the high volume of training.
Thankfully we have excellent medical staff, including osteopath John Gibbons (Peak Sporting Performance) and doctor John Sichel, who have been medicating, injecting and massaging me back to health. This episode reminds me how many different factors affect successful rowing – health, lifestyle, diet and others. In my crippled state I travelled to London to support the squad racing at the Fours Head.
The Fours Head is the only race against Cambridge before the Boat Race on 29 March. It is an important regatta for predicting early season form. OUBC raced as “Isis Boat Club” and boated four crews – three coxed fours and one coxless – from our base at St Paul’s School.
There were mixed feelings about our results – obviously no one likes to lose and we definitely lost. Cambridge performed outstandingly well and we are a very long way behind where we need to be at this stage of the season. It is not totally clear that we’ve done anything wrong, but Cambridge have certainly gathered some talented guys, many of whom have rowed at the highest level.
Owing to injuries and illness, we were unable to boat our full squad of six fours. So our healthy non-racers performed a 5km ergo test instead. They chose to do their ergos at St Paul’s just to watch us. Good lads!
We still have so much to learn about ourselves and the tideway – the length of the river and coping with wash, currents and obstacles. For most people, going past the finish line in the race was the first they had seen the race course.
We now look towards the Trial Eights race on 11 December and then the Christmas holidays.