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Team GB rower Tom George already has an Olympic bronze medal and European Rowing Championships gold to his name. Now, he also has the world record for a 5,000-metre row too, having completed the distance in 14:53.9 on his Concept2.
The British rower has almost broken the record multiple times before, but, until now, had been unable to maintain the required pace.
“I’d been at about 14:59, I think, on the one we’d done earlier this season, and that put me at the top of the charts for the team,” George told Morning Chalk Up. “So it was kind of like, I guess, a weird opportunity where the pressure was off slightly – and you don’t often get those opportunities much – just to be like, ‘Okay, you know what, I could just roll the dice here and have a real go. If I completely blow up and fall apart, I still have that one to fall back on.’ It’s my one for this season that will go into the records for selection stuff.”
George broke the 5000m record while in a regular training session. With other people around him, he had to get in the zone and close himself off from outside distractions – not including the updates he was receiving from his coach.
“When you’re in the middle, to be honest, you’re very much closed off from it. “You’re aware of things that go on around you, but you’re also not really… You’re aware of them, you’re not focused on them," said George. “Every now and again, my coach would just come up and be like, ‘yeah, good pacing’ or something like that. You would be like, ‘okay, that kind of goes in one ear and out the other to some extent.’”
George later said that he didn't put in any specific training to beat the record. Instead, he just prioritised time on the rower. There was one secret to his success, however.
“I think having music on is really important," said George, "especially for the longer the piece, because it can hopefully just slightly take your mind away from the pain and suffering. I said ‘hopefully,’ because I don’t know if that fully does. Sometimes, it’s like, ‘it’s always horrible.’”
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