Last Friday brought the first media day of the year for the Great Britain rowing team, exactly six months out from the start of London 2012. The buzz was reflected by the 106 journalists in attendance. As one regular attendee said, “Do you remember when it was three of us and a dog?” The answer is probably more recently than you think.
A packed day of interviews brought stories, features and even video content for a variety of destinations. I’ll include links here as they’re published but here are some of the pieces that are already up or in the pipeline:
- Profile of Katherine Grainger for Rowing & Regatta magazine. In a 35-minute interview, filmed by the British Rowing website, Katherine talked about her route from reluctant rower to six-time world champion, and how she almost took up juggling instead of rowing. The magazine is out at the beginning of March.
- Interview with Greg Searle for the first 2012 issue of Rowing Voice, which is due out in the second week of February. I also spoke to Garry Herbert – the BBC commentator who coxed Greg to gold in 1992 – for a column in Voice. Rachel Quarrell and I published a blog on Sunday rounding up the selection issues among the heavyweight men’s squad.
- Perhaps the only hard news story of the day was Alan Campbell’s revelation, in an interview for West London Sport that he is taking part in trials for the double scull, and could move from the single if successful. Alan also talked about his “spiritual home”, Tideway Scullers School in Chiswick, for a piece that will help launch WLS’s video offering (and marked my first shoot-edit project).
- Annabel Vernon, Olympic silver medallist and twice world champion in the quad, is the only member of the GB women’s squad with a Boat Race blue, compared to five in the men’s squad. The Women’s Boat Race currently takes place at Henley, far away from the hype and live TV of the men’s version. We spoke for a feature that will go out in Rowing & Regatta in April, the second in the series that begins with Grainger. Asked whether it was time for parity between the men’s and women’s races she said, “I mean, what century are we in?”
- I also popped over to Reading Rowing Club, where Sir Matthew Pinsent was helping to launch the Nation on Trial scheme, encouraging members of the public to record their time for 2,000m on a rowing machine, and raise money for charity in a scheme that builds on the Siemens-sponsored Stroke for Stroke initiative of previous years.
A busy rowing weekend also included Saturday’s Quintin Head, which provided the race footage in the Campbell video, and that evening’s GB Rowing Team dinner at Twickenham, where Mark Hunter – world champion in the lightweight double scull – was named rowing’s Olympic athlete of the year, and earned a rather large trophy. Most other Olympic sports named their athlete of 2011 in December but rowing always waits until its annual shindig.