Sunday, 4 August 2013

The Last Amateurs – de Rond 2008

 “There is a respectful hate for the opposition.” (Redgrave in de Rond, 2008, p.xiv).

Rowing  “it is the unremitting quest for rhythm and flow.” (de Rond, 2008, p.7).

The Boat Race is “a vehicle for exploring the outer limits of human performance, where the two crews will row alongside each other until one of them decides it can no longer win.” (de Rond, 2008, p.9). “the attack is commitment, with no thought to eventual sustainability. We’ll make it happen by being willing to do what the crew next to us is not.” (de Rond, 2008, p.51).

There is a constant battle between competition and team spirit: “On one level – a higher one, in a moral framework – I wanted him to win the time trial, because no one likes to fail. However, on another level, I wanted him to lose, because I know he would be a unifying force in my boat and would add to the lightheartedness that we have now and certainly had last year in our boat.” (de Rond, 2008, p.35).

 “Be that as it may, it remains though to lose, tougher even to get back on your feet. (…) the necessary shame of defeat, always public, without the reassurance that ultimately all will be well. (…) That honour will ultimately come to all who deserve it. Because it doesn’t always, does it?” (de Rond, 2008, p.89).

 “They appear less concerned with Dan’s technical prowess than with his ability to gel the boat socially. (…) they seem to get a better performance out of the other seven oarsmen. By helping them to gel into a single rhythm, he adds considerably to boat speed. (…) sociability can trump skilfulness.” (de Rond, 2008, p.129).

“’Yesterday they looked like a crew set to lose the Boat Race,’ mumbles Donald,’ yet now it looks like they might actually win it.’ But of course the crew know the ball is now squarely in their court – that they were right and the coaches wrong. Dan O’Shaugnessy is their cause, the one thing the oarsmen collectively care about and have taken responsibility for; the one who seems to supply that key ingredient that cements them into a crew as opposed to a band of eight outrageously talented but conjointly dysfunctional individuals. What a note on which to conclude the training camp.” (de Rond, 2008, p.141).

 “what you need to do to get back on track to make the Blue Boat, it would be incredible tough mentally as well as physically. (…) “Can I really do this?” “What am I worth?” What if I were to discover that I wasn’t good enough, is that something I could live with? And it’s so much harder to show everything you’ve got and put all your cards on the table than to say fuck this, and I don’t really care, that you care very much, and that’s probably the biggest hurdle.” (de Rond, 2008, p.144).

“And then seeing the guys after Banyoles was really tough – particularly when you know that everyone talks about you behind your back and everyone’s watching to see how you will respond (…). I felt a lot of animosity towards the guys. (…) it’s hard to try and believe in yourself if no one else is believing in you. (…) but it fills you with anger to look around at each of your team-mates and think you probably don’t think I can do it … and you don’t think I can do it either … and you don’t think I can do it – and even though they were all making a rational call based on the evidence, the only way I could respond was by saying fuck you.” (de Rond, 2008, p.145).

“Believing in yourself is the hardest part, because to do that you have to reject everything else that coaches and team-mates and results are telling you to believe.” (de Rond, 2008, p.146).

“I did feel badly about this, because I like Colin and Oli.” (de Rond, 2008, p.148). “A shame really, but what do you say to the people you are training yourself to hate? I wish I could train without cultivating such negative thoughts, but anger is the only thing that works for me.” (de Rond, 2008, p.148).

“The longer I live, the more I realise the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.” (de Rond, 2008, p.150). “We are in charge of our attitudes.” (de Rond, 2008, p.150).

 “the race plan is not so important to you, just that we find a rhythm that is unsustainable for the other crews and keep moving.” (de Rond, 2008, p.156).

 “If someone is strongly disliked, it’s almost irrelevant whether or not they are competent.” (de Rond, 2008, p.169).

coxing: “an ongoing negotiation between empathy and assertiveness – having to understand what the crew are still capable of doing in a race and daring to make bold decisions and to take responsibility for them.” (de Rond, 2008, p.177).

“One of the keys I think to handle the pressure is to be loving every minute of it. If you are visibly enjoying yourself and the boat’s going well it will rub off. It’s a bit like the idea that people can tell if you’re smiling down the phone.” (de Rond, 2008, p.179).

“Listening to Seb’s rant, I’m reminded of how fragile relationships are, of how even after six long months the crew are still swayed by suspicions of hidden agendas and ulterior motives, seeing the worst in everyone and everything.” (de Rond, 2008, p.181).

Kieran: “I never asked to stroke this crew and this close to the Race I don’t want the stroke seat. Maybe back in January but not today … Actually I’m pissed off we’re having this meeting at all. The only thing that should matter at this point is how we can make this boat go as fast as possible, not who sits where. (…) ‘For goodness sake, it really isn’t just up to stroke to set the boat rhythm; it’s up to each and every one of us, so at the end of the day it makes fuck all difference whether Thorsten or I sit at the front.” (de Rond, 2008, p.186). “So Thorsten sits at stroke I’m at six, we all stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and fucking well concentrate on our individual jobs!” (de Rond, 2008, p.187).

“Duncan and Donald (the coaches) never do get a chance to contribute any closing statement. Nor are they any longer expected to make any decisions. The crew have effectively taken things into their own hands. The boat now belongs to them.” (de Rond, 2008, p.187).

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