James Chapman’s Olympic Diary: racing Bavarian style
Our Australian rowing team is about to have the final opportunity to race against the rest of the world before we submerge ourselves in training, batten down the hatches, and work our seated backsides off at our European Training Centre in Varese, Italy in the lead up to the London Olympics.
It’s race week. It’s racing Bavarian style this week.
Lots of practically dressed, beige coloured locals walking the streets, efficiently.
We race at the 1972 Munich Olympics Course (where there are often weekend sunbathers practically dressed), stay in simple German accommodation, but meals are served at Oberschleissheim, a small town know for its two grand summer palaces of the 1600′s.
Weather is forecast to be hot, and stormy.
The water at the race course here is 10 degrees colder than Lucern. The course is also an oversized mineral bath, so the water is much more dense, sticky even, and times aren’t usually as quick as other courses.
Having the chance to line-up against our competitors for the last time helps to know what to expect from the other countries, whether they are fast starters, finishers and what they are like in their mid-race pace.
There are a few new crews we haven’t seen yet, like the always slippery Italians, the Serbians (typically of tennis and beauty fame), the Poles and the Czechs.
Most importantly, it gives us a chance to try a few different strategies and to test ourselves under genuine race scenarios (read: pressure) again.
Lets be honest, we want to win. We want to beat everyone.
Race well and winning are two very different, yet also congruous aspirations. You can race well and not win. But you can’t win if you don’t focus on racing well. Focus. Concentration. Process. Three sporting clichés… but hey… full credit to sport for making clichés part of daily vernacular.
The British crew are deservedly the benchmark, and favourites, for the Munich stage of the Rowing World Cup.
The British have a target on them for which all crews are taking aim at. Likewise, after our second place at Lucerne, we can no longer race out quickly, like we know our crew has the capability to do, with the element of surprise.
If it was me, I would have gone away, between Lucerne and Munich, and looked to neutralise our fast start. We will race aware of this and be comfortable not leading early, and look to still be able to relax enough to move efficiently.
One of the challenges of rowing racing is to row well, relaxed, especially when you’re not watching your competition behind you.
Rowing tense is slow.
Like you see a sprinter’s face and jaw (no Shirvo references here) slapping around like a turkey neck, we have to race loose for 6 minutes to be able to continue to be quick when the lactate and fatigue claw tight at your muscles.
Heats start on Friday, with Semi-Finals on Saturday and Finals on Sunday. Racing is streamed on worldrowing.com and Fox Sports are also covering the event (10:00pm Sunday June 17th – Fox Sports 1).
The Roar welcomes James to the site as he writes an exclusive Olympic diary. James is an Olympian having competed in Beijing 2008 in the rowing Men’s Eight. He is currently training as part of the Men’s Four in preparation for London 2012 and will share his thoughts as he prepares for the ultimate challenge.