Sunday

| 2016 | 08 | 07 | olympics |

4 years ago, I was a stakeboat holder for the rowing at London 2012.

I have never felt so privileged. Nor so stressed. I genuinely believe those two weeks were underpinned by pressure greater than the entirety of my degree. We were literally, for a few short seconds, in control of many an olympic dream.

The rowing I guess is quite different to many other sports because the start line is completely isolated, 2km away from the crowds and there's a lot of 'space' between the competitors. There were a lot of press restrictions up there, but that didn't stop them telling us how unflattering the angles were. 

As a stakeboat holder, you are put under the greatest pressure by the organisers.

When I was given the mens senior 8 (GB) to hold in lane 4, my supervisor looked straight at me and said 'no stress, but really don't cock this up'.

Having frantic voices in your earpiece telling you to move over half a tonne of shifting boat 3cm forwards is a tough. Knowing that the race will come down to a photo finish, so the start gets investigated too is terrifying. 

The other pressure was the TV cameras. They were everywhere, and we were in shot a lot of the time.

The first bit was catching the boat. Which is harder than we made it look!


You also had to not appear to be rushing the athletes. So you couldn't really drop your hands to the water until they 'acknowledged' you. See above. I am being acknowledged by those men there. 

this was one of the races at The World's the year before. That German crew was an interesting experience. 
I can't remember specifically which day it was, but myself and Mel had offered another pair the opportunity to hold Lane 4 (the best lane) for the mens eights. And am I glad we did. Before every race with a GB crew, we would get it on the radio which was the lucky lane.

It was me.

don't i look excited. 
I had the mens eight. Cue the twenty seconds of fame for my pasty white legs [10.05 onwards]. Such a flattering angle. You can see how much they are moving around, despite being held in the buckets.

I think the worst crew was the mens fours. Without the ballast of the cox to hold them steady, they really were unhelpful. 


The above picture is pre-pushing-forwards. You can tell because the boats are clear of the buckets and not really straight at all. From this position, you'd need to coordinate with them lining up and push them gently away, taking care not to damage the bow or place too much pressure onto the boat. 



the sweet relief of a start going well.




casual. 

who needs entertainment when you've got my banging moves.  
As part of our training we had to pretend to do everything the athletes were going to do. So we totally knew how it would feel to win an olympic medal. and sing our national anthem



this was awful. I hated this bit

so the security guys weren't into any jokes about us borrowing the medals. At all. 


Once they were gone we had to stay lying down until we really couldn't see them. The camera angles meant that we'd block a lot of views and they just didn't like that. 

I tweeted those guys. and they tweeted back.


This is probably my favourite picture from the entirety of the process.




We actually had a lot of fun in between the stress of the starts. It was a great team building experience and I managed to not fall in once. Despite all bets being on me.

I remember this one because it was following 'UNCROSS YOUR DAMN LEGS SOPHIE WE'VE BEEN OVER THIS'
so maybe potentially i was texting on the startline. I mean. oops.