Saturday, September 01, 2007

Semi Finals Completed & Finals Approach

This type of day is always difficult. We are focusing on what has to be done in our final tomorrow, but our hearts sink when we see some of our Australian crews miss out on qualifying for finals. What do you say to someone you know will be shattered at not making it through? Bad luck just doesn’t cut it and well done is not quiet the thing to say. So today we have seen some of our team mates and all that seems to work is a glance, a look of what do I say, a tempered response, we don’t like the feeling and would prefer to see everyone excited about their performances.

For us even though we feel for those who have not had their ideal performance, we are focused and purposeful about our event. What has surprised about the semi finals is how closely fought and how races have come down to the last 100m regularly. It serves as a reality check and when we consider our event it is a sharp reminder of what will be required.

“Expect more of your competitors than they expect of themselves.” This has been a comment I have made internally and externally to Duncan and Chris. I want everyone one in our event to have the best row they can. I don’t want any of our competitors to have any excuses and we will have no excuses. We are all in the final and anyone can win. This is no cliché because anyone can seize the day and take the opportunity. The key for us will be to get on the front foot and hold nothing back.

Why am I sharing this? Well I figure that from the start I intended on sharing the various things going on during this journey. So then I have to be honest. The unknown is the thing that makes it all a challenge. I mean we have no idea what tomorrow will hold. Sure we feel confident, but the scary thing is how all the good work of a season can come undone in the matter of minutes. The thing for me is although I am aware of the risks, the down sides, the negatives and the possibility of failure, I make sure that I remain focused on the exciting possibilities of being the fastest, being the best, of rowing the perfect race.

There are always two sides to the coin as the say and I guess all we can do is to stay focused on the side that will produce our best performance. So sure I have fear, anxiety and doubt, but I also have excitement, joy and a sureness that is very compelling. As an observer and competitor I have seen the two sides this week already and I like to think I have some control over how we perform as a pair. That then means I have to remain aware of the sides and stay focused on the side we choose to become a reality for us.

The semi finals have served notice to all that much is at stake. The finals are a different story and different game. What I mean here is that nothing that you have done before should matter. If we think we have some bullshit position to defend we are quiet literally sitting ducks. If though we consider that the slate is wiped clean and all are equal, then our job is simple. Take the exciting opportunity that is available to all.

Early this week I mentioned that there was a great deal of talking. Well things have crystallised somewhat, but it will be in the hands of a few to create the final picture. What is fun for me now is to reflect on the various experiences of the past and in doing so let them go. Rowing with Duncan has been enjoyable and refreshing. We have been friend for some time and to be able to have the opportunity with him is great. It has not been with out its challenges, but having an openness to explore and a willingness to challenge our assumptions and expectations has certainly been something extremely fulfilling. When I think about those I have been fortunate to row over the years it has been amazing. I consider myself a lucky bastard and with Duncan it has been a great journey so far. I say this because I figure it is all to easy to get caught up in the results rather than keeping things in perspective as to how and why the process, relationship and purpose has been created and the continual rewards that come along the way. Tomorrow is obviously important to us, but it is not the only thing we measure our selves by. To this point we have had a great year and now is time to put into play the practice we have been refining.

When we race tomorrow we race on behalf of so many people who have assisted us and supported what we are about. We have both rowed with many athletes too over the years and I know that we are the athletes we are because of those we have been involved with on the water and off. As for all our family and friends back home we know they are right behind us and it makes a great deal of difference knowing we compete on behalf of others, not just ourselves. To all of you we say a big thank you.

Tonight I will visualise the race we aim to have and there will no doubt be moments that various thoughts pop into that I would prefer not to have. I will see things clearly and then question the validity of the imagery in my mind. I will second guess myself and often find my heart beginning to race. I will tell myself that I know what I am doing and then think, do I know what I am doing. It will almost drive me crazy, but one thing I know for sure it is all natural and I actually get a kick out of it. When we get on the bus in the morning I will for a brief moment think it would be better to get right back off. Then I will sit quietly as I never feel like speaking to anyone. As such Duncan and I probably won’t say much to each other. Quietly I will rise and fall and with each cycle I will remind my self that it is all part of the game.

Finally I will begin to have moments of clam when I sense the time is approaching. It’s inevitable and so to is the focus of competition. The sharpness will become present and I will make a decision. All this I know because it is what I have gone through in a way since the first time I competed in anything that I cared about. Obviously something’s may be a little different and certainly I don’t try to create anything rather than notice what comes up in the final 24hour before a big moment.

Come 10.55am tomorrow we will begin our last race for this season. That’s unless something strange like a handle breaking occurs. What ever happens we feel ready and have discussed that it is important to expect the unexpected. So for now I have gone on way to long, after this I will probably make one more post before having a break when I get back home. I will begin once training starts again. So to those of you reading this I hope it has been worthwhile, as I certainly have enjoyed sharing and have gained value in taking the time to reflect on the experiences we are having.

Before I go two quotes:

“The songs are inspired by my experiences. Sometimes they are more than my real-life and, conversely, my life is more than just my songs.”

Melissa Etheridge quotes (American Singer, b.1961)

“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.”

Albert Einstein quotes (German born American Physicist who developed the special and general theories of relativity. Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921. 1879-1955)

Until next time, all the best

Drew

1 comment:

c.sheridan said...

Congratulations on your victory today. It's been both a pleasure and education reading your blog this year. I've especially enjoyed the posts where you talked about your approach to making what was already good better. Seeing the amount of thought and reflection that went into identifying ways to gain boat speed, and then trying them, was incredibly valuable.

As a rowing coach, I know the importance of having a common sense of what the stroke should look like (both individually and for the boat collectively); being able to see the specific way you and Duncan tackled that task w/ your coach (both in terms of visualizing the adjustments you wanted to make and then taking steps to execute them represented an enormous gift to the rowing community.

Thank you and, again, congrats.

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