Diary of an Olympian: Amor Fati

Continuing our series, “Diary of an Olympian”, Ollie Cook shares another insight with us. 

The run up to Christmas in the GB Rowing Team is typically punctuated with an intense period of trials and internal racing; less “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” and more “Rockin’ Around Caversham Lake”. December is the month where our coaches put us through our paces, before we can switch off a little over Christmas.

In non-Covid times, we would normally have spent the first part of December at a high-altitude training camp in the south of Spain. At over 2,000m, the tough Sierra Nevada camp is a rite of passage for most GB rowers. Of course this year is different with no overseas travel, so for now we have pushed the training on at home to make up for not being on camp. Our national training centre in Caversham was able to stay open during the last lockdown. This meant we could carry on with the vitally important training needed ahead of next summer. It also meant we could go through the process of testing, and eventually selecting, the GB Olympic Team.

We still have a few more days of training before we can take a break over Christmas. As I write this, Christmas plans have all been abruptly curtailed. Indeed, this month draws to a close the most extraordinary of years. Everybody has had a unique experience of the year and a shared one, in that we’ve all had to be profoundly adaptable, not least now with our plans for Christmas. There are grounds, however, for seeing a silver lining next year. This morning my girlfriend, a doctor, received the first dose of the Covid vaccine. Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, recently visited Tokyo and the latest, albeit tentative, news seems to be positive about the Games going ahead next summer.

Still, things can change. This time last year I would not imagine I would still be preparing for the 2020 Olympic Games. I recently came across the Nietzschean phrase “Amor Fati”; the love of fate. Many things happen outside of our control, but what matters is whether we can learn to embrace these changes and understand that, ultimately, it is our own perception that defines how we respond to them. Indeed, with whatever possible turbulence lies ahead, I think that may make for a useful New Year’s Resolution heading into 2021.

Oliver Cook: GB Rower, World Champion and Boat Race winner. Eton Bridge Partners are sponsoring GB rower Oliver Cook in his ongoing training as part of the Team GB squad in the lead-up to the next Olympics games. Since the games have been postponed to 2021, Ollie is continuing to give us regular updates on his progress and performance, and the grueling mental and physical challenges he faces as part of the Olympic squad.