We hope to light up the Lagoa again, says James Fox
When I first started writing this blog it was January and the time remaining until the Rio Paralympic Games were to begin was measured in months. Now we are on the home straight of our own “Road to Rio”.
When I first started writing this blog it was January and the time remaining until the Rio Paralympic Games were to begin was measured in months. I was somewhere along the Spanish-Portuguese border on a ‘mileage’ camp and The Games was just an event that was going to happen at the end of the summer and our attitudes reflected that; focussed but totally relaxed.
Now the Olympics has come to an end and we have flown to Rio and it’s only four days until the Paralympic Opening Ceremony kicks off in the world famous Maracanã Stadium. It is still business as usual in the Paralympic camp but the elephant in the room is getting harder to ignore.
We are now well past the territory of ticking off ‘final sessions’. Final erg test of the Paralympiad, final paddle in our race boat before it’s shipped off to the Lagoa and also final chances to see family and friends before we come out the other side having had the time of our lives but ultimately having been judged on how well the past four years has gone for us. It’s mind-blowingly exciting but I’m already finding myself lying in bed at night trying to second guess what’s going to happen on finals day.
Our team was officially selected on Thursday the 30th of June at Henley Royal Regatta and was marked with a row-past during the lunch break by all the racing crews. I have and always will have a bit of a soft spot for Henley Regatta. Putting all the gladiatorial clichés aside it’s a unique race where anything can happen. Olympic and World Champion/ record holder and all round man-mountain Mahe Drysdale getting topped by Hannes Obreno; a young, mid-weight, modest Belgian sculler proves my point eloquently. What a scalp to take eh! But having raced- and won once in 2008 – down the Henley course it was a real trip down memory lane to row past in our Paralympic crew and a fitting send off to be clapped through the Stewards’ Enclosure by fellow oarsmen and women. Thank you to everybody that was there!
We then went to Banyoles on training camp and came back fitter, stronger and significantly more tanned than we left. Banyoles was our last chance to cram in some hard graft to put us in the best physical state we can be and hopefully give us the edge over our competitors.
It was our final work camp and now we are tapering into the Games and making the final touches. Between now and finals day we won’t make any physical advances but we will be focusing on how to row better and race smarter and our training will reflect that. As our coach, Tom Dyson, says; we’ve learnt how to put speed into the boat, now we learn how not to take it off.
I’m sure you’ll all agree but watching our Olympic Squad and the whole of Team GB triumph in Rio on such an enormous level made us well up with pride in the small, dark room we watched from in Banyoles but it has also sent a wave of momentum our way. It really does give us a lift, a push on our saddle.
We are two separate entities but we’re one team. And now it’s our turn. We’re on the home straight on our road to Rio. We’ve been selected, had our Team Launch, we’ve got our kit and flown out Rio.
Enjoy the Paralympics whether you’re out in Brazil or watching from home but either way please cheer and scream for your GB crews louder than you ever have before. All your support means the world to us and it is a big driving force behind what we do and how we do it. I promise you we’re in the shape of our lives and with any luck we’ll light up the Lagoa and bring back some metal work to add to the Olympic Squad’s already history-making medals.
See you on the other side.