FEATURE: Trials are first focus as Mark Aldred pursues Olympic dream

Rio 2016 may be on the horizon but lightweight rower Mark Aldred is very much focused on the here and now as he aims to make his Olympic dream a reality.

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Jono Clegg, Peter Chambers, Mark Aldred and Chris Bartley in the lightweight men's four at the 2015 World Championships in Aiguebelette

The 28-year-old, a qualified UK and European patent attorney from Edgbaston, only took up rowing seriously in 2010 but has firmly established himself in the GB Rowing Team lightweight men’s squad during this Olympiad.

He won bronze with the lightweight men’s four at the 2014 World Championships and last year helped to qualify the boat for Rio, where GB will be looking to go one better than the silver medal won at London 2012.

But before he can start contemplating Rio, Aldred has to see off plenty of internal competition at next week’s GB Rowing Team Olympic Trials with only six seats available for the lightweight men – the other two being in the double scull.

“It would mean everything to get into the Olympic squad,” said the Cambridge University graduate. “It’s what I’ve been working towards for the past four years and longer, ever since I’ve been rowing.

The atmosphere is still really good amongst the team – we are in competition but we are not at each other’s throats

“It is scary to be so close. I must admit, because we still have so much selection work to do before then, I am not looking too far ahead. I’ll glance at the news about the Olympics and try to put it to one side but, at the same time, it is very exciting.

“It’s my first Olympic season but I can definitely notice a subtle difference. There is more work being done around the periphery, people are getting into training earlier to do a bit more of the one per centers – they make the biggest difference at this time.

“The atmosphere is still really good amongst the team, though – we are in competition with each other but we are not at each other’s throats.”

The next big chance for Aldred to stake his claim is the Olympic Trials, taking place at the GB Rowing Team’s Caversham headquarters from March 21-23.

The GB Rowing Team is supported by the Lottery through UK Sport and has Science in Sport as a supplier.  SAS Analytics is the Official Analytics Partner of British Rowing and the GB Rowing Team. Follow Britain’s rowers on the Road to Rio via Twitter – @GBRowingTeam – and at www.facebook.com/GBRowingTeam.

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