Although GB rowers only hit the headlines a few times a year, it takes a year-round, day-to-day commitment to compete internationally. So what goes on behind the closed doors at the GB team’s Caversham training centre? Sport500 spends the day with lightweight Emily Craig.
It’s an early wake-up call for a rower and time for breakfast number one: porridge. While her porridge is cooking, Emily turns her attention to her dog, Jeffrey. The two nip out into the garden for a bit of fresh air, back just in time to drizzle some homemade lemon curd on her porridge. Jeffrey isn’t a great fan of the early starts so hops back into bed ready for a bit more of a lie in.
Off to Caversham. A snoozing Jeffrey waits for the dog walker while Emily heads off to start a day of training.
Raring to go, Emily hits the gym to stretch before the first session of the day, usually on the water. If the weather isn’t looking too good, they’re on the rowing machine and there’s a race to bag the best ones, German towels on sunbeds style.
Breakfast round two! It’s really important that rowers eat enough to fuel training. If the breakfast special is a breakfast burrito, Emily’s coach will be in a great mood, so it’s a good time if she needs to have a chat with him. Emily also uses this time to see the physio, who keeps an eye on how her hip is doing after her injury last summer, or to catch up on some Japanese homework.
The squad are back out for the second session of the day, usually on the water again. Somehow, the second session always feels colder than the first, so it’s back inside afterwards to warm up and stretch. Emily always makes sure to do some hip strengthening exercises to avoid a repeat injury and stay on top of her game.
Lunch (meal 3). For lightweight Emily, it’s a round of salad with an extra helping of whatever protein source is being served that day.
The squad leaves Caversham and heads to the weights session at nearby Bisham Abbey. Emily always nips home en route to check on how Jeffrey is getting on. If she’s lucky, she might even have the chance to lie down for a whole 10 minutes!
Finished for the day, Emily arrives back home. A few snacks in front of Netflix before eating supper at 6pm. Eating early helps Emily stay on her 57kg target weight. Jeffrey gets his supper too, and the pair head out to meet Emily’s friend Hillary for a dog walk, on which Jeffrey gets to spend some quality time with his ‘girlfriend’, Bowie.
A cup of lemon and ginger tea and some dark chocolate with some more Netflix, before bed. Her early bedtime is a long running joke with her housemates. Who says your twenties aren’t wild?
Photograph by Naomi Baker