GB Rowing Team held its annual Assessment Day at the GB training facility at Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake in Caversham with 16 pararowers from across the country taking part. The group included members of the current GB squad, the GB Development squad as well as others from the pararowing community. The intention was to have a water assessment, but due to very adverse weather conditions, the day was shifted to be a 2k erg test. In addition, to the assessment BR coaches and staff took the opportunity to frame the Paralympic year and give some newly identified talent rowers their first exposure to an elite training facility.
Lead Coach for Paralympic Pathway Tom Dyson reported:
- “It is always good to get the first benchmark of the season for current squad members, and to see if there are other rowers that should be brought into consideration. However it is also pleasing to see the growing talent in the pararowing community. It is always exciting for us as coaches to have new rowers present themselves at this first assessment. Yes we are looking for those that can step up to the level for International representation, be that now or in the future, but we take great pleasure in seeing the sport grow and hope that more people can get involved regardless of their ultimate ambitions. One of the next elements for aspiring squad members this season will be the British Indoor Rowing Championships on December 7th where hopefully even more pararowers and adaptive rowers alike can get involved.”
Maidenhead’s Steve Bloyce trialed for the first time and shared these thoughts about the experience:
- “It is always a pleasure to be invited to train/row/test over at Caversham as the place ooozes inspiration and professionalism the second you walk in. Very special (Not the best place to watch a World Cup rugby final though, but nice to see professional athletes getting annoyed just like the rest of us at rubbish reception on the TV when England are trying to pull back a steady performance by a tenacious opposition). I was very pleased with how the day went and how I delivered my 2k on the day, especially as I hadn’t done one since BRIC last year. To stick to a tough strategy under close supervision was a great buzz for myself and deliver the strategy in front of my coach Nick Steele so he could see what his hard work has been working towards was really good for me too. One thing that I have always appreciated about opportunities like this is the avenue that is provided for people from all walks of life and backgrounds to compete together alongside their hard work and their personal circumstances. Everyone in the room had their own motivations and set of circumstances that got them there and for circa 7mins you are all driving yourself headlong at the same shared objective. Great to be part of and a very visceral feeling at the end “
England Talent Pathway Coach Ella Willott also answered a few questions from Adaptive Rowing UK about the day and the process:
- What is the overall purpose of the day?
The GBRT Open Para Assessments are held each year to give aspiring para rowers the opportunity to race and test themselves against current Performance rowers, and to measure their progress against the GBRT Gold Medal Prognostic times. Rowers are encouraged to represent their home club at the Open Assessments, which are held both on water (November) and on the ergometer (December) over a distance of 2000 metres.
- Who were all the participants? What clubs were they from?
We usually have a range of participants across all boat classes, from clubs all over the country. To name a few places people came from in 2018, we included Peterborough, Ireland, Cambridge, Manchester, Totnes, Marlow, and Cardiff. Some were Para Development rowers, some were club rowers, and some were GBRT Para Performance rowers.
- What is the objective of the day?
The aim of the day is to test existing Performance rowers, and individuals with the potential to become Performance rowers in the future, against a set of Prognostic Gold Medal Times. The closer the rowers can get to these Gold Medal Times, the more likely they are to be able to contest for a place within the Performance Squad, and the more likely they are to be able to compete on the World Stage. The assessments give a good indication of the standard that each rower is at both in a boat and on the ergometer, and can serve to encourage those with potential to keep striving for higher standards of performance.
- What are the benchmarks/requirements for being selected to the Development squad?
There are a range of factors that contribute to selecting individuals to be part of the Development Programme. Clearly there are some physical criteria which determine eligibility for selection, but in addition to these selection will often also involve ‘softer elements’ of sport, such as someone’s ability to be coached effectively for example. As well as performance criteria (on-water results, ergometer times), we also take anthropometric measurements into account, as the right height and arm-span are good determinants of whether or not someone has the potential to be competitive within the sport. The right physical components and performance criteria form a major part of what we look for in a potential rower, however this alone may not determine success in the sport. There are psychological characteristics and a set of observable behaviours that we also look for in our potential rowers, characteristics such as a high level of motivation, drive and direction. Anyone who believes they have the potential to join the Development squad is free to make contact with our British Rowing who will be able to obtain the right information from you to advise on whether you may meet our selection criteria or not.