Going for gold: the Olympic diary of rower James Chapman (Part X)
Fine tuning – like a piano tuner, or a V8 mechanic – that’s the focus of our final stages of pre-Olympic training at Penrith before we fly out of Sydney tomorrow and straight into the Athletes Village. The excitement of racing in Beijing is really starting to build amongst the crew.
I’m hoping to see a lot of superstar athletes cutting around the village, especially Australian athletes like Cadel Evans, Stuart O’Grady and Clint Robinson.
I’m particularly hoping to meet one of my sporting heroes, Steve Waugh, and chat about big-event preparations. In a huge blessing, “Tugga” is rowing’s Olympic Athlete Liason Officer. These are the experienced, role model, sporting heros that athletes are meant to be able to use for advice and as a sounding board.
The other two liaison officers are Wallabies great John Eales – will be keen to talk Bledisloe Cup! – and Kate Allen (nee Slater) of rowing fame, who won Olympic gold in the women’s pair in Atlanta, 1996.
We have done several racing pieces in Penrith on the Sydney Olympic course. It’s been great trying to pull all our training together to see how we’re moving at race pace now. We’ve been trying some different ways of starting and are using the Sydney International Regatta Centre as a mirror copy of the Beijing course to complete our preparations.
The whole team is staying together out at Penrith and having all the crews in one spot really creates a good team vibe and you can start to feel the enormity of having qualified a full compliment of crews for the Olympics. Every crew’s been doing their practice racing pieces and it really brings home that it’s not long until race day in Beijing.
We’re also starting to feel human again after completing our big-load sessions, and some of us have actually got some feeling back in the legs. The heats, which start for us two days after the Opening Ceremony, are only 10 days away and I can’t think of a time in my rowing career that I’ve felt fitter and more physically capable to handle a flat out sprint like the eights race is.
There’s been a fair bit of media attention around James (Tomkins) with this trip being his sixth Olympics and the speculation that he’s one of the short-priced favourites to carry the Australian flag at the Opening Ceremony. You probably couldn’t get a bookie to take your money.
If he does become the flag bearer, I’m sure it would be a huge honour for him, and it would be very, very cool to have one of my crew mates leading the Australian Olympic Team into the Opening Ceremony.
Thanks to all those who have sent good luck and best wishes notes.
I feel sorry for my family and friends who may have noticed that I’ve gone a bit quiet over the last week or so. Its got to that time where I’m spending most, if not all, of my thoughts and day dreams on how I’m going to row in the heats. This is the time during my preparation that my focus starts to narrow and I visualise myself executing my job the best I can.
I’ll next write from the Olympic village, and let you all know how the vibe is over there.
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