Blades, Sweat and Tears – brand new GB Rowing Team podcast to launch on Tuesday

Tim Dellor, BBC broadcaster and host of the new Blades, Sweat and Tears podcast, gives us an idea of what to expect

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Tim Dellor interviews the GB Rowing Team's Ollie Wynne-Griffith and Tom George

The new BBC Sounds podcast Blades, Sweat and Tears launches on Tuesday 25 February and will give listeners a new insight into the GB Rowing Team. Covering everything from competition to coffee clubs, regular episodes will take listeners behind the scenes in the build up to Tokyo 2020.

We spoke to the host of the podcast, BBC’s Tim Dellor, to hear what listeners can look forward to.

How long have you been following the GB Rowing Team?

Since London was announced as host city for 2012. I was in the finish tower at Dorney when the announcement came through. It was one of those moments I’ll never forget. I got to know Dorney pretty well over the following 7 years. My really close connection with rowing properly started after the Beijing games. Since 2009 I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world following the GB team at World Cups, World Championships and Olympic Games. It’s ridiculously addictive – a bit like Corrie or EastEnders with new characters joining, offering some drama, and then leaving.

What made you want to do a podcast about the GB Rowing Team – and why a podcast in particular?

Rowing always gets huge national attention every four years, but between Games time like all Olympic and Paralympic sports the mainstream coverage falls off a bit. Sports fans will only care come Tokyo this summer if they know the characters in the boats. You have all these elite sportspeople cooped up together, training ferociously for hours on end. They have to deal with the most immense pressure. There are so many great stories to tell along the way. It helps the rowers all seem to be so articulate. It lends itself perfectly to the podcast format, allowing the contributors a bit more time in a more relaxed environment than other media platforms.

What have been some of the highlights so far?

Getting to know a good number of the athletes a bit better, and finding out more about their lives at Caversham and away from training. Training camps to Namibia and Portugal are of course interesting, but cars breaking down, coffee clubs, DIY mishaps, and naughty binge scoffing have probably been more memorable.

Anything that has surprised you/anything you’ve learned?

Loads. Coxing, training, travelling, psychology, and serious interests in other sports away from rowing. I’ve been surprised how interested in cricket, rugby, F1, football etc so many of the squad are. I suppose between training sessions there are plenty of hours to while away, so rest and recovery in front of other sports is an obvious way to pass the time. I’m always surprised how well rounded and charismatic the athletes and coaches are. It’s not like that in all sports!

What have listeners got to look forward to?

We’re aiming to get people behind the scenes and knowing the characters much better in the build up to Tokyo. The plan is to take listeners not just to Caversham, Bisham and the training camps, but to other places where the rowers hang out. It needs to be very natural and authentic, rather than too staged. Listeners will get a tour round the training facility with some of the athletes, and get a much better idea of what happens behind the gates of the Redgrave and Pinsent training lake in Caversham, but also we’ll be in their homes, travelling with them, and spending some downtime away from training with them. By Games time this summer you’ll feel like you really know the athletes in the boat, and you’ll understand what they’ve gone through to get themselves on the podium.

Other than Blades, Sweat and Tears, what is your favourite podcast?

I spend quite a bit of my life at this time of year covering football. That Peter Crouch Podcast and the Reading FC podcast are well worth a listen. For something more highbrow, I thought BrexitCast was a superb format.

Listen to a preview of the series here, and check back on Tuesday to download the first episode with the GB Rowing Team’s John Collins – available to listen to on demand on the BBC Sounds website and app.

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