Ollie Cook in kit with rowing owe

Diary of an Olympian: Mental Fitness for Winter Training

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

One of the guys in the team was pulled over by the police last week. They were checking every few cars, asking drivers why they were out and about during lockdown. Fortunately, the day before we had all been issued with a letter explaining that we were members of the GB Rowing Team, and that as national team athletes our training centre was allowed to stay open. It wasn’t quite the classic FBI badge flip from the movies, but he was waved on through.

There is no question that we feel very privileged to be able to carry on training together through lockdown 2.0. There are now less than 250 days to go to the opening ceremony next summer in Tokyo.

Although next summer feels like a long way off, this period of time is vital for us; it is where we put in the miles that will put us in the best possible position come race time.

There is no magic bullet, or short cut that means we can skip this part of the season. Indeed, when we sit on the start line next summer it is from this period of the season – “the winter training” – that we will draw our confidence from. It is a world away from the excitement of racing in the summer. We train three times a day, six days a week; our first session as the sun comes up, our last as the sun goes down.


This past month has seen the only international rowing race of 2020 take place; the postponed 2020 European Championships. Great Britain didn’t take part. It was decided earlier on in the year that to give us the best run into the 2021 season we wouldn’t send a team. The postponed 2020 European Championships in Poznan, Poland, were by all accounts a success. It was great to hear the commentary, the familiar noise of the start buzzer, and see familiar international faces and crews. It was also tough. It has now been more than 14 months since we last raced internationally.

A whole season has gone by where we have trained and competed internally but without the opportunity to pull on the GB vest and represent our country. Watching the postponed 2020 European Championships though was just the fuel that we need for the fire going into the winter and into next year. The GB men’s four is no longer the current European Champions, that title went to the Dutch. We now have six months until we get the opportunity to win that title back.

As the country is in lockdown my top advice is to get outside at least once a day. Even if it is chucking it down, and the wind is sideways, some of those days are my favourite sessions. This lockdown we are allowed to meet up with one other person from outside of our household. Don’t be put off by the weather to go for a walk with someone, along the river or even around town. While the country is currently in lockdown 2.0, it is our job now to build the 2020 GB Olympic Rowing Team 2.0.

Ollie wearing his EBP branded training kit