I was delighted to hear from Claire Pesterfield, lead UK diabetes paediatric nurse, that Cellnovo had invited me to attend a Rowing day with Sir Steve Redgrave at Dorney Lake in Eton, just outside of Windsor. Dorney Lake is the location in which the Olympic Rowing Games will be held for London 2012. In the year 2000 a memorable moment occurred in British sporting history in the Sydney Olympic Games, when Steve Redgrave won his fifth GOLD medal in as many Olympics to become the greatest British Olympian ever. It was also the year I was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic and did not really understand or know what exactly the illness was, so when coming to terms with the change in lifestyle as an 8 year old, one of the biggest things on the news a few months later was Steve’s accomplishment as a recently diagnosed diabetic; it was something which really encouraged me and provided my positive attitude towards having diabetes.
In light of this event I was interested in Cellnovo, an insulin pump company with high-tech advances to the design, something I wanted to find more about – particularly as an extreme sportsman. On top of this I was interested in having Cellnovo involved with my next challenge which will be EXTREME! and so I requested for Paul Farrelly, the 6’7 cyclist and Type 1 diabetic who may be cycling in support of me during that challenge, to also attend. Paul came along, however, concerns should have came to mind when it was announced that groups were mainly based in height order – with me a short enough 5’8 heighted marathon runner, finding out I was in the same category as Paul!
Further alarm bells rang when it was our turn out on the lake… Sir Steve asked what the groups were and five went over to one boat, leaving four of us remaining for the other boat; myself and Paul being two, along with two keen young learners being the other half of our team (they must have been aged between 11-13). I was always one to spend the majority of my maths classes as a teen moving to different tables mainly situated in front of the teacher (through no fault of my own), but this just didn’t seem to add up with the distinctive weight imbalance! The great man himself was to be our front-man in the boat, however, something cropped up and Steve briefly left the scene to attend another boat, leaving us in the safe hands of an experienced rowing instructor…
It was a joke of course, and Reman laughed with her reply: “yes I can hold it, but don’t worry these boats never go over!”
In we stepped, entering the 4-person-row carefully, in the manner we were instructed to by holding both the ores together with one hand and holding the boat in place with the other; everybody made it into the boat safely and we were all set to begin rowing! Then, suddenly, a problem we were not quite prepared for occurred… Paul got his RIGHT confused with his LEFT and, with his lengthy arms, dug his ore downwards through the rollick the wrong way, which rocked the boat slightly; not to worry, with three others, although two considerably lesser weight than the tall-cyclist, and myself nowhere near his equal, just a temporary wobble… In the confusion I must confess to making a bad mistake, for some reason common sense went out the rowing boat and I joined Paul in lowering the LEFT ore, believing it would even things out…
Oh – it evened things out alright; in fact our rowing boat became more an Argentine footballer in the lake, capsizing completely! From the back of the boat I could only watch as Paul tumbled into the water, followed by our two young sailing partners and, before anything offensive could slip out of my mouth, I too was under the water! When I arose and we all managed to pull ourselves onto the platform, I believe I heard the voice of Steve Redgrave:
“In 35 years of rowing I’ve never seen a 4-person-row tip over like that!”
Maybe it was partly because through all those years of achievements in rowing, he’d never come across Paul Farrelly and myself in a boat! I guess Paul should stick to extreme cycling, and I should really stick to crazy distance running!
It was a very eventful day, I met some interesting individuals and it was also great to see so many young people with diabetes out there, active and enjoying themselves. Some good contacts were also made which could be very beneficial towards my next challenge. There was also also a upcoming rower with type 1 diabetes, Fred Gill, there, who raced for Cambridge against Oxford this year – possible future Redgrave? And also Ben Coker of Colchester United. To top it all I got to shake the hand of the man who pretty much inspired me to be who I am today back when I was that 8 year old kid. The last thing I said to him before he headed home for a well deserved rest:
“Sorry about the boat Steve!”