James Fox |

‘It is the volunteers at the grassroots that make sport so great’

GB Para rower James Fox pays tribute to his first coach, Bob Bridges, who sadly passed away earlier this year

Most coaches dream of discovering a natural athlete; a teenager with the lungs of an ox, a natural feel for the boat and a brain that, well, just gets it.

I once heard that when Olympic bronze medallist Alan Campbell first stepped into a boat on the Tideway, his coach Bill Barry was struck by his innate ability to move boat past blade and knew, from that moment, that he would become one of rowing’s greats.

I remember hearing this and wondering, among other things, how on earth my first coach had put up with me, an 11-year-old boy at Peterborough City Rowing Club (PCRC) who spent more time in the water than on it. And, as for the brain, I couldn’t work out what I was doing wrong.

“Without Bob, along with a handful of other unsung heroes at PCRC, I wouldn’t have stuck with rowing”

My mum would fume when I came home, dripping wet and minus yet another piece of equipment that had been sacrificed to the lake gods; water bottles, sunglasses, stopwatches, seat pads. And yet my coach, Bob, was unphased. A relentless stoic with a warm heart and boundless enthusiasm for the sport of rowing.

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