To train full time on the senior team for more than one Olympic cycle is a daunting task. There are many things to be taken into consideration when making this decision. As it is already halfway through the quadrennial most of us have already grappled with these thoughts, but with just over 8 months until the Olympic Qualifier and 18 months until the Rio 2016 Olympics it is worth going over them again.
The first and most basic question when considering whether to keep training is can your body hold up under the rigors of training at such a high level. If you have made it through years of rowing before joining the senior team and you have been to an Olympics the likely hood that you have made it through unscathed is very unlikely. Whether it was ribs, back, or some other malady; we have all been laid up by something. Getting over the thought of potential injury is easier for some than others, but we all seem to get over it.
Having the mental stamina to get over injuries shows that we are all strong people, but dealing with grind everyday can be a different beast all together. We all love racing on the water, that’s why we do this, however it takes a lot to get to the racing. Hours of erging through the winter, the stress of seat racing, and all of the testing can wear even the most mentally tough person down. It is also hard to stay excited about these things. If you are able to stay excited about training on a day-to-day basis you are in about as good a position as you can hope for.
Now we come to more practical matters. With several training sessions a day it makes it very difficult to hold a normal job. While most of us do something to help support ourselves it is often not enough. That is where the National Rowing Foundation comes in. They help raise a large portion of the money that is used to pay the stipend that USRowing can give us.
Now the next and most obvious problem that arises is equipment. Rowing is not known for being a cheap sport to take part in. To make sure we have all the competitive advantages we can we get to use the best boats in the world. Since these boast cost between $12,000 and $40,000 depending on the boat class paying for all of these is obviously a huge burden on USRowing, but again the National Rowing Foundation raises all the money needed to keep us in our beautiful fleet of boats.
Now the last, but far from the least important thing that we as high performance athletes have to worry about is travel. It is expensive to travel to Europe and stay for weeks at a time. We also need more than bare minimum accommodations. To pay for all of this we again rely on the National Rowing Foundation to make it possible for us to travel in a way that allows us to be at our best when we see that green light flash.
The next many months are going to be full of excitement, injury, frustration, joy, and lots of hard work. To get through all of this we must rely on ourselves. But for everything else we have the National Rowing Foundation and they will help us qualify for the Olympics and succeed at the Olympics.