As most of you rowing folk will already know, British Rowing have recently decided to drastically change the date for the National Rowing Champs (now British Rowing Champs). Martin Gough's blog explains it here.
My first thought was "October?!?!?!" As in the month after September?
I then realised that all hope of me going to Nat Champs with my Uni crew was pretty much scuppered what with people graduating and getting jobs and being home all summer. You can just about organise it to keep training till mid July but bastarding October? Any race in October will be with the next year's squad and therefore exceptionally likely to be ropey and in no way prepared for a weekend of 2K funtimes on Dorney.
1) Most of the GB squad is concentrated in one club, i.e. Leander which essentially means that if the above goes ahead (and the team is forced (?) to go to race at Nat Champs), Leander will almostly certainly win every single medal going with huge margins. If squad members were more spread out among the rowing clubs then this idea could just about work, but as it stands your average club rower who trains around their day job has zero chance of winning a badgering thing.
Now this isn't a bitch along the lines of "ooooooo all the squad will take all the medals boo hoo" - I mean they are faster than the rest of us. (Dur). It's more the fact that if you represent GBR at a World Champs/Olympics you are de facto more awesome at rowing than the rest of us and a Nat Champs gold is sort of trivial and pointless. There is also a
amateur/professional divide thing to consider too. I know that
officially the members of the squad are amateurs and aren't paid as
such to row, but they are professional in the sense that they are
funded and only have to concentrate on being awesome at rowing. It
couldn't be more different for Mr/Ms average club rower who trundles on
down to their local club. In my opinion it's equivalent to having a
tennis league with Andy Murray et al. in along with people who play a
couple of times a week with their friends. Just incomparable and a pointless exercise.
2) I fail to see what is the advantage for anyone here - by definition the squad are made up of the best rowers in the country. They train badgering hard three times a day and are funded. They are probably also slight genetic freaks (in a nice way). Turning up to Nat Champs and racing a bunch of people who squeeze sessions in around degrees and jobs and children and just row because they think it is awesome and fun is just pointless. By definition the squad will beat the rest of us by c. a minute over the course and it's crap racing for all involved.
3) October isn't just the beginning of the rowing season for club rowers but for squad rowers too - they will all have just come back after a post-Olympics holiday after presumably winning all the golds :-)
Now I can appreciate that Nat Champs as it stands (stood) needs a rethink and I'm sort of glad someone had the bollocks to make some changes. However, this seems very poorly thought out and with a complete lack of consultation with the people that usually go to Nat Champs, i.e. your club rower for whom it's the last big race of the season and a thing to work towards.
Maybe I'm just feeling a bit bitchy because I will have no crew to go with this year (and it's in OCTOBER). I
don't know. This is just my very opinionated first thoughts on the
matter. I'd like to know what you all think in the comments below - can
anyone see and advantage at all to this new system?
More typical post to follow over the next couple of days (on 2K ergos wooooo :D). Night!