FB often thinks that a spell bowling up the hill against the wind is pretty tough on the physique. But rowing is another dimension. FB did the real thing for a year while he was idling away his post graduate studies at an institution of higher learning on the Thames. And very enjoyable it was too - he remembers the serene beauty of the river in the early morning with great affection. It is a mystery to him how he was not spotted by the Great Britain coaches and groomed to be another Steve Redgrave. This is just one of many mysteries in FB's lengthy sporting career.
Rowing requires whole body fitness in a way that no other sport that FB has encountered does. And racing requires everything to be given - the pictures of the crews at the end of their races tell their own story. They are spent. The rowing machine in the gym can still be a brutal experience. Grainger and Watkins stroked 40 strokes per minute in the last dash for the line. FB can manage this on the rowing machine for about 10 seconds and the machine just about takes off from the floor. But the rowers have to balance and steer their boat as well.
|Boathouses on the River Dee Aberdeen|
Katherine says she first learned to row on the River Dee in Aberdeen. So did FB - well almost. When FB was a kid, there were rowing boats for hire on the Dee from the foreshore under Torry. FB occasionally ventured forth. The Dee is relatively speaking a fast flowing river, and the water is not the warmest. In those far off days there was a different approach to safety and there was no thought of life jackets or any such nonsense. Fortunately FB and his chums never fell in. But it was poor grounding for FB's future as an Olympic rower and may well explain his being overlooked when he graced the Isis.
But all that doesn't matter - well done Team FB. Well done Katherine Grainger, Olympic champion. Heroine du nos jours.