Matt Rossiter |

Tough times don’t last. Tough people do

In his second blog, exclusively for British Rowing members, European champion Matt Rossiter shares his thoughts on motivation and inspiration when the going gets tough

Almost everyone in life will have a setback of some sort. Actually, scrap that, everyone in life will have a setback, be it, family, friends, sport, career, health, the list goes on.

I sometimes think that life would be brilliant without those ups and downs, but then again would it? Perhaps it would be somewhat boring…?

Every day, all manner of different obstacles are thrown in our way and it’s how we overcome them – or don’t – that shapes our path. I could bore you all with loads of different stories, but we’re probably best-off sticking with rowing ones, aren’t we?

For me, it’s often when I’ve been at my lowest that I realise how much I really want something

In 2010, I came second at the U23 Worlds with George Nash and Constantine Louloudis. After that season I injured my back and missed almost three years of rowing.

A few years later I went to watch the London 2012 Olympics and saw them both win bronze medals which made me feel both very proud and distraught. I felt so angry and sorry for myself that it wasn’t me, but at the same time I felt incredibly motivated. Watching those two on the podium made me realise that I did really, really want it. 

When something is taken away from you, it’s often in that moment you realise how much that something means to you. For me, it’s often when I’ve been at my lowest that I realise how much I really want something. I think, often in life, the line ‘you don’t know what you’ve got, till it’s gone’ really rings true. The past four months have been absolutely crazy, and very difficult for a lot of people with that lyric becoming a reality for many. 

My motivation has been all over the place and some days I’ve had to really dig in

From a personal perspective, after Trials in March, a bunch of us were selected into crews for the 2020 season. A few days later the Games were postponed along with the rest of the season’s regattas. 

Training after that became a real challenge, as I’m sure it has been for every athlete in the world. My motivation has been all over the place and some days I’ve had to really dig in.

I thought it might be interesting to share some things I’ve thought about during lockdown:

  • Some days it’s okay to just go through the motions and do what’s necessary. It’s unrealistic to be really fired up and motivated every single day. Some days it’ll even be a struggle to get out of bed. So, on those days if you can just complete your training, then that can be seen as a real success. 
  • Remember why you’re doing it. Look back at the things you’ve achieved in the past, remember all the good times you’ve had and remember the fun that’s waiting ahead of you. 
  • As well as the good bits, remember the hard times you’ve endured. I had a particularly tough Sierra Nevada ergo camp in 2018. I had a lot of demons in my head and I was physically absolutely exhausted, but I made it through. Knowing that I’ve come through that reminds me that I am actually pretty tough and can get through almost anything, if I put my mind to it. 
  • Something I’ve realised that really drives me is wanting to be as good as I possibly can be. I want to absolutely fulfil my potential. To be honest, I don’t just want to fulfil my potential, I want to wring every last drop of potential out of myself. I don’t want to look back on my time on this planet with any regrets. By this, I don’t mean regretting that extra cheeseburger you ate at McDonald’s at 3am, but, giving whatever you’re doing your absolute best shot. 

Finally, I want to end with a gem from Moe Sbihi. Through lockdown, the men’s squad has had monthly squad chats with Chief Coach Jürgen Grobler.

During one of these meetings Moe snuck this quote in:

Tough times don’t last. Tough people do. 

Photo: Nick Middleton