Geoff Roth (St Edmund’s 2009)
Subject: Land Economy
Hoping to qualify for: Coxless four, pair, double scull
Pre-competition ritual: “I listen to Right Here, Right Now by Fatboy Slim and read an extract from the book Chariots and Horses: Life Lessons from an Olympic Rower by Jason Dorland, my high school coach; the extract is about my first high school race.”
“It never crossed my mind that I would one day go to the Olympics. I’ve been rowing since the 11th grade, when I was 16; this will be my ninth year. I originally took up the sport because I injured my knee at a rugby training camp just before the school term started and had to take three months off from playing contact sports as a result.
Participating in a sport was mandatory at my boarding school, so I needed to take up something else. Because of my knee, my choices were either sailing or rowing, so I started rowing. I simply thought it would keep me in shape for rugby. In fact, I loved it, my coach was fantastic and my school team mates are still among my best friends now. My high school coach, Jason Dorland, was a huge influence on me. He taught us that rowing was all about the journey and not about the end result. It’s not about killing the person next to you, but about getting the best out of yourself on the day.
I feel very fortunate because rowing has taken me all over the world and has given me so many opportunities. You can pursue multiple academic degrees while staying in the sport at a very high level. Rowing at Cambridge was terrific. I went there after completing my undergraduate degree at University of California, Berkeley, because I wanted to advance my education while continuing to row.
There’s so much history at Cambridge and the Boat Race always appealed to me. It’s world-renowned and I had been watching it ever since I first started rowing, so being able to take part was an incredible experience. I was also very close to my team mates. Another Cambridge rower, Peter McClelland, is on the Canadian team with me.
Right now, rowing is my life: I train three times a day, six times a week, and any other time is spent preparing for the next session or recovering, so eight or nine hours a day are focused on rowing. I want to be as perfectly prepared as possible and do everything humanly possible. Race day is a combination of all your years of training and how fit you are on the day. To perform at my best, I just need to go out there and do what I’m capable of.
Geoff Roth is sponsored by UBS.