Matt Rossiter’s pathway to the GB senior squad started as a junior, winning a gold medal at the 2007 Junior Worlds. What has he learned along the way?
Welcome along to everyone kind enough to tune in. My name is Matt Rossiter, current member of the GB Rowing Team, bald-headed Henley resident and bacon enthusiast. Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing monthly blogs on life in the Senior Team but in my first post I’m going to talk through four lessons I’ve learnt along the way.
1 – Ask as many questions as you can
I’ve realised that I ask lots of questions. I think this could partly be because I don’t really like talking about myself, but mainly because I’m always desperate to further myself.
I learnt to row at Abingdon School and was lucky enough to have lots of great coaches, but I can particularly remember bombarding my J16 coach with endless questions. He was a highly accomplished rower himself as well as a deep source of knowledge and it seemed wise to mine as much of it as I could!
Not much has changed now at the national training centre in Caversham. We are surrounded by amazing people, but I’ve particularly enjoyed picking the brains of coach Steve Trapmore, former Olympic champion 2000, and teammate Moe Sbihi, 2016 Olympic champion.
I cherish breakfast as, when I’m finished rowing, I’m sure it’s that social part I’ll miss the most
2 – Make a plan and commit to it
Life can often feel extremely busy, but from time to time it can be really useful to take a breath, reflect on what has been and plan where you want to go next.
I went to Durham University after school and my rowing seemed to be progressing really well before a three-week back niggle ended up being three years out of the boat. I hardly rowed at Durham and, when I left, I felt pretty lost.
I only managed to get things back on track when I found a really good physio and committed to a really thorough rehab plan. Up until that point I’d half committed to one thing and half to another, desperately looking around to find a quick fix for my back. Only once I’d stepped back and forced myself to commit to a plan I fully trusted, did I start to get my back sorted.
3 – Enjoy breakfast
We all know that rowers love eating, but what rowers really enjoy is breakfast. I’ve been a member of Leander for four years and, amongst other things, that’s something they do really well!
After first session everyone, coaches included, heads upstairs to commence ‘second breakfast’. This is as much a social occasion as a feeding one. Everyone is kicking back after a tough morning on the water and the room is full of shouting, laughter, endorphins and, of course, bacon.
Olympic champion Constantine Louloudis once said that he didn’t necessarily enjoy rowing, but loved having been rowing. I fully agree with Stan here as, hands down, my favourite part of training has to be sitting down, bacon bagel in hand, chatting with my mates over a freshly brewed cafetière. I really try and cherish breakfast as, when I’m finished rowing, I’m sure it’s that social part I’ll miss the most.
I get incredibly nervous before races, but I remind myself that all I can do is all I can do
4 – All you can do is all you can do
I’ve been on the national team for almost four years and there have been a lot of ups and downs. I get incredibly nervous before races, but I always try to remind myself that all I can do is all I can do.
In the build-up to races there’s no need to worry too much about the ‘what ifs’ or other crews. All you can do is get your boat going as fast as it’s capable of.
By preparing to the best of your ability, you’ll be able to sit on the start line knowing you’ve put yourself in the best possible position to perform. In life, we all want to achieve great things, but in reality, in any given situation, all we can do is put our front foot forward and do our best.
Photo: Nick Middleton