Gomen kudasai*

Rachel Quarrell casts a critical eye over Cambridge during Tideway Week, 2015.

21 July 2021

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch bows to some of those at the Tokyo Olympic Regatta.

HTBS has frequently lamented to decline of proper rowing coverage in the press. Most of the media is only interested in minority sport where there is a “human interest” story (aka, “the James Cracknell angle”, now replaced by the “Helen Glover slant”). In Britain, the Daily Telegraph is the best of a poor lot when it comes to reporting on rowing and itstill keeps a proper rowing correspondent, Rachel Quarrell, on its books. Rachel also writes for Row360 and Rowing Voice and is currently in Japan at her fifth Olympic Regatta, though as a freelancer. On Tuesday, I was one of several who received an email from Rachel in Tokyo informing us that she intends to keep a daily blog diary while she is at the Olympics:

Don’t expect too much – we are highly restricted so it’s not too likely I will get out and about anywhere interesting, but I’ll try to give a feel for what the Olympics is like, within the limits of where I’m allowed to go (mostly the rowing and the main press areas).  

The blog is at https://tokyoexpress2021.wordpress.com/ ….
(Ed note: during the Tokyo Olympics, you will find a link to Rachel Quarrell’s blog posts publish under “Good Rowing Links” in the right column on this page.)

We’re 8 hours ahead of the UK and I’ll aim to post updates each night Japanese time from now on. 

For the rowers, from Thursday onwards my rowing action articles will be published on www.row-360.com most days.

To those who would normally be out here too, it’s not the same without you.

I would usually envy people with press accreditation to the Olympics, but covering this Games in person does not sound like much fun at all. Rachel, thanks for doing it – and keep safe. 

Robert Treharne Jones (left) at the 2014 Fours Head in his then role as the Leander Press Officer. As well as being a photographer, the multi-talented Robert is also a medical doctor, Olympic and other rowing commentator, and the clinical director at LumiraDx, a medical diagnostic software company that currently produces COVID tests.

Joining Rachel in Japan will be veteran rowing commentator, Robert Treharne Jones. The Henley Standard recently published a very nice article about Robert’s 40 years as “The Voice of Rowing”. The excellent Standard is one of a dwindling number of local newspapers that are not just advertisements and press releases – and is also one that has good local rowing coverage. However, its headline for the story, “Rowing commentator to mark 40th year in Japan”, while not quite the alleged wartime banner, “Monty flies back to front”, suggests that Robert has been living in the land where the sun rises for four decades.

Rory Gibbs, Sholto Carnegie, Matt Rossiter and Ollie Cook are the four charged with the defence of the men’s coxless four title won by GB at the last five games. No pressure. Picture: British Rowing.

British Rowing’s three-part-documentary, The Road to Tokyo, about the GB rowers’ striving to qualify for 2021’s 2020 Olympics, recently previewed by Göran Buckhorn, is now live online. Links are below with italicised text from the British Rowing website.

The Road to Tokyo is a compelling behind-the-scenes documentary into the teamwork and commitment of the elite Olympic and Paralympic rowing squads. The three, 30-minute episodes follow the GB Rowing Team and tell the athletes’ stories as they strive for selection for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Episode 1 – Attitude and Altitude  

The 2019 World Rowing Championships in Linz have just finished, and not all boats are yet qualified for Tokyo 2020. Six months out from Olympic and Paralympic Trials there is a lot of work to do for the GB Rowing Team. From high-altitude training to mileage in boats, the team will go through rounds of testing and trialling to get the squad ready for one of the biggest years of their lives.

Episode 2 – Perspective 

The final stages of selection are upon the GB Rowing Team as they prepare for the Olympics and Paralympics. They have remained focused on the task at hand despite news filtering in about a virus sweeping across the globe. Just as the final Olympic Team is selected, the GB Rowing Team athletes are forced to contemplate what’s next as the COVID-19 pandemic forces everyone to re-evaluate priorities and figure out a way to stay focused on their goals.

Episode 3 – It’s Been A While 

It’s close to two years since the GB Rowing Team raced at any competition and between now and the postponed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, they may only have one race to get it right: the European Rowing Championships. Not only is the pressure on to see if their training through lockdown has paid off but for many of the athletes, this may be their final chance to secure a place on the plane to Tokyo. While some familiar faces have departed the squad, there is one surprise addition with the return of double Olympic Gold Medallist, Helen Glover.

*Gomen kudasai is an expression used by the unfailingly polite Japanese when visiting someone’s home. It means, “Please forgive me for bothering you”.

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