True, the only qualification for the World Masters Games is being old enough. In fact, the oldest competitor, a 101 year old woman from India did the 100 metre sprint in just 1:14 and got a PB in the shot put today with a throw of 2.1 metres. Go her, we all say.
And yes, there were only 18 in our competition, but there were some mitigating circumstances that make the 28 second gap between us and the gold medalists seem, frankly, pretty bloody impressive!
Here we go:
- My cracked rib probably didn't help (but drugs and strapping did!)
- We trained with a 'bow-side rigged boat' only to arrive and discover the 'stern-side rigged boats' from the hire pool couldn't be re-rigged. Eek! That meant that the order we sat in the boat wasn't as trained - I was meant to stroke but Sal L had to step in - and she did a sterling job BTW!
- There wasn't a cox available from the pool for training. Poor Sal L's cousin happened to be there to watch so we threw her in the cox seat and she did her best as we zig-zagged our way up the course. Not overly encouraging.
- We haven't been rowing that long. Women in our division we met at the car hire place announced they'd been rowing together for 15 years - we've spent 5 months mastering a sweep boat - including a break over Christmas/New Year and accomodating various hair appointments
- The competition is pretty stiff. Where do you think all those Olympians, World, National and State champions go to row when their career has finished? The World Masters Games!!
What did work for us:
- Glorious weather. I'd seriously imagined howling winds, waves and rain coming in sideways. It was gorgeously sunny and still.
- A team of excellent coaches back at the Hawthorn Rowing Club in Melbourne who managed to get us this far - mostly Ben but also Emma, Jade, Nikki and Luciano
- An amazingly positive team dynamic and a can do attitude
- Alcohol. Unlike some athletes, we chose to keep our drinking steady rather than abstain. As one member said, stopping now could send our bodies into shock - and we couldn't be having that
- A random cox from the pool - a 16 year old student from Auckland called Camille - she was seriously awesome
- Our team manager Andrew, who's been driving us around (although he did try to run me over in the hire car before the race - that's another story!) and pouring the gin and tonics - bless!
- Our gold jackets! They've started so many conversations.
So although we didn't win, we feel like winners. Three of us still have running events to complete but we're already 'International Athletes!'
If we can hang in there long enough, we may get gold in about 20 years time.