For my first blog on my new site, I wanted to give a big thanks to my supporters back home in Kingston, Ontario! 2014 has been a big year for me in my quest for Olympic Gold in Rio.
2014 started out as every year does, with lots of hard work. Countless hours were spent rowing in the cold, sitting on rowing machines till every carb was used, and lifting weights to squeeze every last bit of strength out of our bodies.
Motivated by a disappointing 2013, it was time to get back into a position where we were fighting for medals just as we were in the lead up to 2012. It took a lot of racing and a lot of time tweaking something here or changing something there in our race plan, but we found ourselves in the medals before the season was out.
At our first major regatta at the second World Cup in France, we landed ourselves in fourth place. Just outside of the medals by less than a second. So it was back to the drawing board at our training camp in Italy, to try and find some more speed for World Cup 3 in Switzerland.
Between the two World Cups was the Holland Beker Regatta in Amsterdam, a regatta generally attended by club crews. This year however it would be highlighted by the Dutch National Team, the American National Team and the Canadian National Team. The regatta is held on the same race course that we would find ourselves on in a months time for the World Championships. We raced this two day regatta with mixed results, trying to find some more speed against two crews that had topped the podium at the 2013 World Championships. Exchanging blows throughout the weekend, we came away having learned some bitter lessons, but we were better for it.
Next on the racing calendar was the Lucerne World Cup, where we once again put ourselves in a position to go after a medal in the A final, but instead of focusing on that outcome, it was all about the process. We put the blinders on and tried to execute every thing we had worked on. Chasing the Brits, and pushing back the Australians, the TrueNorth4 we called ourselves, crossed the finish line, looked around and found ourselves in 3rd place. It felt good to be back on the podium on one of rowings most sacred rowing courses. After some celebrations, we headed back to Canada to brush up for the big one that everyone had marked on their calendars, the World Championships.
Back home again we put in one last gruelling block of training before making the trip overseas for the final staging camp in Erba, Italy. The training at this time is hard and full of high intensity pieces, while still retaining some of the high volume training from the winter. All this to get the body ready for another set of 2km races. Italy in contrast is all about tightening the screws and getting the boat razor sharp before putting yourself on the line.
Back on the course we had raced on earlier in the season, we were confident in our surroundings, and that the job ahead of us was one within our grasp. All of the pieces seemed to be put in place and if we felt if we went out and executed our race plan we would be successful. The regatta had its ups and downs, and in the end we pushed past the European Champions to 5th place overall, chasing the Brits, the US, the Dutch, and the Aussies whom we had beaten earlier in the season.
It wasn’t the result any of us hoped for, but it was a huge step in the right direction for us. We moved on from a tough 2013, put our boat into an Olympic Qualifying Position for Canada, and in doing so, earned ourselves a trip organized by the Canadian Olympic Committee to Rio De Janeiro to check out the 2016 Olympic site. This was an amazing opportunity, something I will never forget, particularly as we grind out these hard winter training months leading up to the Qualification Regatta this summer.
I really cannot say it enough, but I want to thank all of the people who have supported me on the site and allowed me these wonderful opportunities. I’m so proud to be able to represent Canada and everyone back home while following my dream of Olympic Gold.
P.S. As promised big shout out to Pascal Lussier, aka “French Speed” for encouraging me to get my butt in gear on the Web Site.