Peter McClelland (Pembroke 2009)
Photograph by Kevin Light Photography
Hoping to qualify for: Men’s Four
“I’m usually outgoing but I’ll be more withdrawn the night before a race. I like to be very organised so I don’t have to worry about anything and I listen to my iPod to stay calm while psyching myself up. I’m a fan of ‘90s rock bands such as Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins.”
I started rowing at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, aged 19, at the suggestion of a friend’s father. I had a background in track and field and was a middle-distance runner in high school, so I had the capacity for that kind of sport.
When they put us on the ergometer, I had the best numbers and it was obvious I had a knack for it. I was on the track team as well as the novice rowing team – by the second year, it became clear I was a much better rower than runner. We had fun and did well, and it was a great start to the sport.
At Cambridge, rowing is such a big part of the culture – everyone follows the Boat Race and everyone participates at their own level at some point. CUBC is an incredible team and everything is really rooted in tradition. In my Blue Boat in 2010, all of us had rowed for our countries at some level. Most of us aimed to go back and continue rowing for our home sides in 2012.
I was in the Canadian national team system before I came to Cambridge. I came back in 2010 after competing with Cambridge at Henley and, since then, I’ve had to prove myself day in, day out, to stay in the squad and gradually move up the ranks.
There are currently six of us left to compete for four Olympic spots. Training is very much a full-time job – we’re training three or four times a day, six days a week – and I need to be completely focused, so I’m just trying to stay as grounded, and as in the moment, as I possibly can.
I’m excited by the pomp and circumstance of the Olympics, because it’s a massive celebration of sport. But I think the biggest thing for me is really the prospect of competing against the best rowers in the world, if I’m lucky enough to make it into the Men’s Four. This is going to be one of the most competitive event in the men’s heavyweight category, if not the most competitive. A few of us are in contention and these guys are great friends of mine, so it would be really cool to compete against them or even just in the same Games.
Peter is sponsored by Ontario bakery Bäckerhaus Veit.