Alternate Athletes support Team GB
Jo Cook, Emily Taylor and Adam Freeman-Pask make up three of the five ‘spares’ or ‘Alternate Athletes’ – as their official accreditation describes it – in the GB Rowing Team at Eton Dorney.
“Obviously I wasn’t expecting to be a spare,” said Cook, “So it’s been quite a big thing to get my head around that.”
The 28-year-old Leander rower added, “I only found out that I wasn’t in the eight a few days before we went on training camp so that was pretty tough. But now I’m really pleased that the Olympics have finally come around and the fun has started. It’s very exciting to see my friends getting great results out there and having the crowd behind us just gives us a massive lift.”
The role of the spare is tougher than meets the eye. Both Cook and Taylor shadowed the eight and the quad, knowing that it was up to them to motivate the crew when the going got tough.
Taylor said, “It’s a difficult job – you can’t really seen to be looking miserable so you have to put on a brave face and be happy. You have all of the training and the stress but you don’t get the relief of racing.”
Meanwhile Freeman-Pask, a gold medallist at each of the world cups this season, is more relaxed about his reserve status for the lightweight men’s double and four.
“You don’t have all that anxiety from racing and that fear creeping in,” he said.
“Obviously if I had to sub I’d probably be in shock for the first five minutes. But they’re more than qualified to do the job so I’m not on red alert. I’m quite relaxed about it. Obviously it’s gutting not to race but that’s the job I’ve signed up for.
“It’s nice to have a chat to the guys and go for a walk with them. Because they’re obviously in each other’s pockets it’s good for them to talk about something other than rowing. If I can provide some light relief then that probably helps. People like having a mental break.”