All posts filed under “Rowing

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Starting Day 2 in the rain

So Day 2 of our Olympics trek has started in rain. It’s pass reasonably quickly and everyone in the stands are now dressed in identical yellow rain jackets, handed out by the organizers.

We now have DSL up and running so will finally be able to respond to emails, etc. That just happened this morning so full Beijing update will start tonight.

We saw some great racing yesterday. Rob Waddell from New Zealand came from a length down at the 1500m mark to win by ~2 lengths. Not terribly surprising, considering he won gold in 2000 and is quite likely the strongest and fittest rower in a generation. Also saw the Kiwis row through the Netherlands in the Men’s 4- in the last 500.

I would be careful reading too much into yesterday’s official results. While some crews raced to the finish, others took it down a couple notches when it was clear they qualified for the next round. (The GB M2x was a good example of this.) It’s hard to describe just how hot and humid it was yesterday, and I can see why they would want to conserve their strength.

Up today are the lighties, the women’s quad and the eights. The rain has cooled things off, and we’re looking forward to seeing the racing kick off!

By the way, our hero of the day yesterday was Darryl Reid. He’s the psyiotherapist for the New Zealand squad, and has access to all the athlete facilities. We managed to get his attention as he was cycling by yesterday and it was great to say hi. But he also very kindly brought us ice-cold bottles of water to drink and help keep us cool. Awesome!

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Day and a half left…

So the countdown to our departure to Beijing is getting very short. Tomorrow we do the online checking and pray for decent seats, and finish the day by packing. (I’ve made our list, but haven’t packed a thing yet.) That should be straightforward, though. It’s damn hot, and we aren’t doing anything fancy, so mainly t-shirts, shorts and sandals.

But before we go, here are a couple of cool links/stories I wanted to pass on:

  • Checklists for Doctors (from the New Yorker): A simple four-step checklist managed to reduce infection rates in intensive care units by 66%! In eighteen months, the group of hospitals saved 1500 lives and $175million.

    No matter how good someone thinks they are, and how much study they’ve done of complex procedures, checklists are absolutely necessary. After three years running a nuclear reactor, I can say this with certainty. While we were trained to be able to do everything without instructions, we failed any procedure where we didn’t use them.

    I really hope this is something that actually catches on in the medical community. It’s long overdue

  • Looking for a quick laugh? I keep forgetting to check McSweeney’s. This feature is great: “Corrections to last month’s letters to Penthouse Forum.” (via kottke)
  • If you like politics, and don’t mind a little math, you have to check out FiveThirtyEight.com. Developed by Nate Silver, who’s a pioneer in sabermetrics (aka baseball statistics), it’s a really deep look into the state of the Presidential and Senate races for this election. Very light punditry, very heavy math.

And to end this post, photos of Elise and Sarah’s bronze in Athens 2004, as well as Elise and Anna’s World Cup gold in June of this year.

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Off to the 2008 Beijing Olympics!

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This week my wife and I are flying out to Beijing to attend the 2008 Beijing Olympics! Needless to say, we’re getting really excited.

We had to order our event tickets well over a year ago, and recently purchased a couple more tickets from a friend that couldn’t go. Over the course of twelve days we will be attending: Rowing, Athletics, Gymnastics, Triathlon, Beach Volleyball, Wrestling, and Weightlifting.

Key tickets for us are everything rowing (as you can guess by my previous posts), the Women’s Individual All-Around gymnastics final, and Athletics (to include Men’s steeplechase and long jump, Women’s 800m, Discus and Pole Vault). Provided we’re able to swap one of our two pairs of Saturday rowing finals tickets for a pair of Sunday finals, we will see 26 different finals and medal ceremonies.

Why we’re going

The main reason we decided to go to the Olympics over a year ago was to support our friends from Thames Rowing Club, where we’ve been rowing for four years. Elise Laverick is rowing in the Women’s Double Sculls with Anna Bebington, and Ali Knowles and Beth Rodford are rowing in the Women’s Eight. Last year Annie Vernon rowed for Thames (she’s since switched clubs), and she’s competing in the Women’s Quad Sculls. Oh, and Al Heathcote is rowing in the Men’s Eight; he’s the brother of a guy on Thames men’s squad.

Getting ready

It’s only been in the last few days that I’ve started to get really excited about the Olympics. We decided to do a Homestay, which I was initially unsure about. But now that we’ve been in touch with the owners of the flat (a Canadian man and his Chinese wife) I’m stoked. We’ll have wireless access, so we should be able to upload photos and blog on a daily basis while we’re there.

The Olympic Committee also recently released their visitor’s guide, which finally gives a little more information as to how we’ll be able to get in between venues. Considering the Rowing and Triathlon venues are well outside Beijing central, this is key for us. It took a bit to download the 100 MB PDF (!), but it’s packed full of information. As long as we have a ticket for an event on the day, transportation in the city that day is free.

By the way, I’ve been using TripIt to organise our whole trip… I highly recommend it!

Visiting Beijing

I also hope to see a bunch of Beijing while we’re there. The Great Wall is a trip that we’re trying to fit in on one of the days, but since it’s a little way outside the city we may need to skip one of the event sessions; we’ll see. To be honest, I’m treating this as a secondary part of our trip. We want to see the spectacle of the athletes and competition, everything else will be a bonus.

Subscribing

If you’d like to get all of my Beijing blog updates, you can subscribe! Just click here to get new posts by e-mail, or click here if you’d like the RSS feed.

With wireless access, I hope to be posting daily with impressions and photos from the day. I may also be able to post occasionally from the venue with photos now that I’ve got my iPhone! Oh, and I hope to be sending updates to Twitter, too. This is going to be great!

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Slowly reconnecting

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted regularly here. Essentially the run-up to Henley Royal Regatta consumed every scrap of spare time I had. If you haven’t heard of it, Henley is one of the top rowing regattas in the world. It’s held on an absolutely beautiful stretch of the River Thames that has a straight section of just over 2km, the standard of international rowing races. Henley Regatta has existed since 1839 and has had a royal patron since 1851.

More importantly, Henley is known for being one of the most exclusive regattas in regards to talent. Virtually all of the best rowers in the world have raced there, and all of the best UK domestic rowers have. To have won Henley is a BIG feather in your cap; to have raced there means that you were at least a fairly serious rower.

Unfortunately, our crew failed to qualify to race at Henley this year. We’ve had some good races and some poor races, and the Stewards didn’t think we were of the standard to pre-qualify. Twenty-seven crews raced for seventeen places in the regatta, and we were the second-fastest non-qualifier. Though we rowed quite well on the day, if we had been just half a second faster (over a seven-and-a-half minute course) we would have competed this year. What’s even more unfortunate is that the conditions changed while the crews were on the course, and our division experienced significantly more headwind than other crews. This inevitably would have cut our time down enough that we would have qualified (in my opinion).

Since we weren’t of sufficient standard to pre-qualify we were subject to whatever happened on the day of qualifying races; this year simply didn’t work out for us. It’s tremendously disappointing for a whole host of reasons, and I was in a very non-sociable mood for several days afterward.

The one benefit of the experience is that it has completely drilled into me the standard of rowing and fitness I need to be at to achieve what I want to achieve in the sport. (See photo at top.) My focus for the next months and years will be to focus on the fitness and technique I need to reach my goals. It won’t be easy, but at least I know the size of the mountain I need to climb.