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ROWING: Andy Triggs Hodge column
6:00pm Saturday 24th August 2013 in Sport
It’s time to race. But sport is rarely a plain sailing road to success.
Coming from different trajectories, all competitors are aiming for a target the size of an eye of a needle.
The pinpoint accuracy needed to attain that single gold medal is unfathomable, in absolute or relative terms, and is known only by one person.
Only the winner knows what it really took for them to hit that spot.
And from the moment they do, every route continues in an array of directions – either into obscurity or fame.
Now that we’re just days away from the World Championship heats in Korea, that eye of the needle is coming into view.
Our route to get here has been very different from that of our competitors.
It’s been challenging and unique to us.
Hopefully it’s exactly what we needed, to ensure that we’re as well-prepared as we can be.
But the only time we’ll know this for certain is when we cross the finish line of the final, a week on Sunday.
For now, we will keep trusting the path we have built, and each other.
These last few weeks are anything but run of the mill.
For 46 weeks of the year, we are knackered.
We train with fatigue in our legs. Everything is heavy and freshness is rarely encountered. Putting this into context of preparing to race, we’re a finely-tuned machine.
But our perspective is with these tired legs, not these bouncy appendages we’ve developed. It’s like driving and realising your handbreak is still on.
It is quite disorientating, especially when you’re conscious that you’re aiming for that eye of the needle.
But trust is what we must have – and the one thing that holds this all together, as always, is our coach, Jurgen Grobler.
He has the experience to know how to balance everything, to bring all eight athletes right together.
And so, amid the turmoil of the final preparations, through the calm before the storm, we prepare to lay down a years’ worth of sweat and pain on the line.
This race will validate our reasons for returning to training after the Olympics, or picking ourselves up and coming back to try again regardless.
It will justify the decision to our girlfriend or wife, and our families, and the missed birthdays and social gathering and underlying duties to friends.
Our paths after this event will forge ahead, with many twists and turns. But for now, the only question is whether we will live up to our own expectations, take this race on and execute it in our own way.
Forged by our own path, will it hit the mark?
There is a sense of muted optimism and eager anticipation in the boat. This is a good start . . .
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