Blog: James Fox – speed order and true grit

159 days is all that separates us and the Paralympic opening ceremony on the 7th of September. 159 days. Not long at all is it?


The latest blog from para-rowing World Champion James Fox. Pic Copyright Peter Spurrier

It is not long now until Tom Dyson, our Lead Coach for para-rowing, and the powers that be select their team for the Rio Paralympic Games.

Talking of which; 159 days is all that separates us and the opening ceremony on the 7th of September. 159 days. Not long at all is it?  That day will come around before we know it, which is bone chillingly exciting but there is work to be done between now and then.

This weekend hosts our final trials. The Olympic squad had theirs last Tuesday and Wednesday and now it’s our turn.

Many of you will be aware of the term ‘Speed Order Testing’ especially if you have trialled for regional or national teams before but, for those who haven’t, the term refers to racing in set crews (as opposed to swapping in and out like seat racing) over racing distance to gauge each boat’s speed in comparison to the predicted gold medal time (PGMT) at the Paralympics for their event.

It levels the playing field and is a great way to compare performances within the squad or even from previous years. This weekend we have speed order testing over 1km. For the coaches this trial will consolidate all of the data they have gathered on us over the year and will help to form a decision about who will make the boats go fastest this summer and, ultimately, who deserves a seat at the Paralympics. As I say, exciting times.

In other news; I’m sure many of you have been ‘enjoying’ what Storm Katie has been offering us. The kind of wind that makes you feel like you got lost along the way and pottered right outside of the Thames estuary.

It reminds me of James Cracknell capsizing on his first attempt to cross the channel in a single scull. It clearly happens to the best of us. Perhaps we should stay in eights – the guys at the weekend in the Boat Race did alright didn’t they!

Congratulations to all the Boat Races winners and also to the Cambridge women for finishing in the most adverse of conditions. A serious amount of grit was on show there.

Meanwhile, if you want to know how Grace Clough, a World Champion with me in the mixed coxed four, was identified into rowing then there’s a good piece on the BBC website: