Rowing Worlds…the Races Begin!

Trish DowningRace Blog1 Comment

This week has been a whole new experience for me with a lot to take in! Being at a rowing event seems to remind me of all that I have experienced through my last 15 years of racing. It seems to be like road and track cycling with a little bit of triathlon thrown in, all at the same time. The atmosphere reminds me of triathlon. There is a big grass field here that looks similar to transition at a triathlon race, only instead of bikes, there are hundreds of boats and boat racks. And the rigging on the boats is reminiscent of track racing. You have to find just the right gearing on your boat for the race, just as on the track bike, and any small change could throw off the whole performance. I haven’t quite nailed down the personalities of the able-bodied racers yet, but the adaptive team though serious in goals and desires, is still a pleasant and entertaining group to hang around. And of course, to top it all off, there are hot bodies all dressed in matching lycra outfits. We have five people here working on our staff. My coach “Muff” who has been working with Jeff to make sure our boats are set up and ready to roll, as well as coaching us through our training and race strategies. Karen and Pat work with the four-man boat as well as the men’s single. Natalie, a beautiful and sassy Brit, is over here jumping in and doing whatever she can to assist. In the boats are Ron Harvey and me for the men and women’s AS single, Tony Davis and Jacqui Kapinowski in the TA mixed double, and Eric McDaniel, Andrew Johnson, Eleni Englert, and Emma Preuschl and Alex Stein (as coxswain) in the LTA four. And I can’t forget the two most adorable service dogs, Briggs and Jamaica. We all have our work cut out for us while we’re here.
My goal is to finish in the top 8 of my classification. This will be a challenging task for me considering my inexperience, but I’m hoping my competitive past will cross over and help me get the best out of myself, even though I have been at this such a short time. I think that Paralympic sport offers sort of a blessing and a curse in that, there are so many opportunities to compete at a high level of sport and sometimes they come around quickly, such as this did. The curse is in the fact that even though the numbers are small and there is not always a deep pool of racers, that does not make the competition any less talented. On the contrary, there are several of these girls who could chew me up and spit me out. Today, for instance, we were rowing in the warm-up lane and as I was going in one direction, the Ukranian woman was rowing in the other direction. As we passed each other, we glanced eye-to-eye and all I could envision was the bout between Rocky and Ivan Drago, when Drago says, “I will break you.” Those words could have easily come out of this women’s mouth as she is twice my size and looks like she could cream me without even trying. But, through it all, I am staying positive and am getting ready to race in the heats tomorrow.
The way my racing will work is that we will have two heats on Monday. The winners of the heats will go directly to the finals. The rest of the heat will go to the Repechage round. Of that round, the top two will go to the “A” finals. The remainder will go to the “B” finals. All of the “A” round finishers and the top two “B” finishers will earn a slot for their country to the 2012 Paralympics. So my goal is top 8 and I hope I can make it. I will definitely have to work HARD for it, have excellent races and a good bit of luck, but I am excited to race against a full field of competitors . Should be exciting!
Tomorrow at 9:36am, I will line up against: Russia, France, Brazil, Korea and Belarus. Wish me luck! I will report back when it’s over.

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