Tom James MBE (Trinity Hall 2002)
Update: in a spectacular race the GB Men's coxless four stormed to victory and a Gold medal on the
morning of 4 August. Find out more here.
Tom has been selected as a member of Team GB's Men's four crew for the London 2012
Olympic Games. Find Tom's official athlete profile on the Team GB website here
Hoping to qualify for: An eight, four or pair
"Winning feels like: "It's different every time. At the Beijing Olympics, there was just a feeling of relief. In the World Championships, it was more of an ego boost."
“I took up rowing at the King’s School, Chester, when I couldn’t run any more. I’d developed a knee condition called Osgood-Schlatter disease, which many boys get when they’re growing up. My mother, who’s a physio, suggested rowing as a non-impact activity, and that’s how it all began.
A lot of people assume that I must have had Olympic dreams since I was a teenager, but it was only when I was trialling for GB, and got selected for the senior squad, that I realised I could go for it. It was the year before the Athens Olympics, so it was obvious that if I made the boat, I’d be in with a good shot for the Games.
That was in my first year at Cambridge, which is an amazing melting pot of talent. I was rowing with seasoned athletes, some of whom had been to the Olympics, and my learning curve was very steep. I think that as a sportsman, the best way to learn is with other athletes, rather than just from coaches. And there are only two places in the world that offer an environment like that to rowers: Oxford and Cambridge.
Being a rower and studying at the same time is one of the most difficult things you could ever do. You’re combining so many different things. Now my life is tailored just to rowing, and in terms of volume, there’s more training; but I have free time in the afternoon to relax, refuel and recover for the next day.
The London Olympics will be very different from Beijing. In China, we were halfway round the world, and although we had our supporters there, they were people we knew – friends and family. It was my first time in China, and odd to see how the stands suddenly filled up at exactly 9am and emptied at 4.30. People were clocking off as if it was a job, rather than something they were lucky to get tickets for. It won’t be like that this year!
Everyone’s now talking about the Olympics, and it’s becoming a bit of a distraction when we’re just trying to focus on what we’re doing. But at the end of the day, you just have to see it as another race. For now, I’m just keen to get selection out of the way, and hopefully I’ll be able to get focused on the Games and aim for a gold medal. That’s what we’re here to do.”
Follow Tom’s Olympic journey at: www.realbuzz.com./blogs/u/Tom_James/tom-james-blog
BMW Berry Heathrow support Tom personally, and Siemens is the team sponsor.