Injury is a hazard for 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. The one certainty is spending hours on the gym bike alone, cycling towards a brick wall that never gets any closer.
In my crippled state I travelled to London to support the squad racing at the Fours Head. This is the only race against Cambridge before the Boat Race on March 29. It is an important regatta for predicting early season form. Oxford University Boat Club (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 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 has certainly gathered some talented guys, many of whom have rowed at the highest level.
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. Watching from Hammersmith Bridge was awful. I had a mixture of frustration, anger, excitement and jealousy, having completed the training yet being unable to participate on race day. Thankfully I have a green light to resume rowing this week. We now look towards the Trial Eights race on December 11 and then the Christmas holidays.