After my last post about regatta nerves, some of you may have been waiting for the usual, tear-stained, brave post about yet another race lost. And it could so easily have been thus, were it not for the frankly splendid practice of the British Masters Rowing Championships of offering a silver medal to the runners-up in any race with more than four contestants.
Which is why I have in my possession two extremely shiny bits of rowing bling.
The first was for the Mas C Mixed 8 (aka the Burlies and the Girlies). We were, not to put too fine a point on it, hammered by worthy winners Broxbourne RC, but had a fight on our hands for second place and had what I believe is known in the trade as a Really Good Row.
Next up, with barely time to catch our breath, was the Women’s Mas D/E 8 – a handicapped race that meant that one crew (not us, sadly – a composite 8 from northern climes) was sent off a very long seven seconds before the rest of us.
And what a race it was. We didn’t really expect to see the E crew for a while, but had hoped to slug it out for second place at least. Yet at 750m (3/4 of the way there) we were still languishing in fourth place. It sucked.
But then something amazing happened. Out of the corner of my eye I started to see the two crews that had left us behind. And then more of them. And then all of them. And then, very shortly before the end, even the crew that had had a head start.
We rowed like we’ve never rowed before, with the cheers of the Monmouth Massive ringing in our ears, and came in, completely spent, just two and a bit seconds behind the winners. Somehow – despite a dodgy coxbox that meant those of us at the bow could hear nothing from our cox throughout the race); despite the improbability of pulling back from fourth position; despite the fact that our legs were screaming and our lungs were bursting – we pulled a silver out of the bag.
Everyone agreed it was the best race they’d ever rowed. It was certainly the toughest. And here’s what I learned:
1. My goodness, it’s nice pulling up at the winners’ pontoon. Such an improvement on the usual routine of crying in the loos.
2. There’s no sound nicer than that of two medals chinking together.
3. I really am a true rower: for all the joy of coming home with silverware around my neck, I can’t deny that I’m just a tiny touch disappointed that neither of the medals was a gold.
Finally, massive respect and congratulations to the winners of each race and commiserations to the other crews; they put up a heck of a fight.