After racing the World U23 championships last year I came away with a disappointing 4th place, determined to sit down with my coach and make some tweaks to the training program for the next four weeks in the build up to the World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam.
With the margins being so close at these events I knew that I needed something to give me an extra little bit of an edge on my competition. I had read a lot about the possible benefits of beetroot juice to rowing performance so got some sport shots and bars and began taking one each day before training.
I was able to notice my performance steadily beginning to improve and my times getting faster. In Amsterdam there was a big entry of 28 in the lightweight menâ€™s single scull.
I lined up in the second heat alongside the current European champion and with a strong tailwind I finished in 3rd with a new PB of 6:57.65 and direct qualification for the quarter-finals.
After two rest days the quarter finals arrived. I started slowly and was in 5th at the halfway point but then made my move and finished a close second with the second fastest time of all four quarters.
The semi finals are always tough with people desperately trying everything to make it to the final. In last place at the 500m marker I slowly picked off each boat one by one and made my way up to second place by the finish and had secured a spot in the A final.
With nearly all other finalist having previous experience in World Championship finals or even Olympic finals I knew it was going to take a huge effort to come away with a medal.
I was last again during the first 500m and had managed to pull into fourth with 500m to go. I put in a massive sprint and was gaining on the Swiss rower who was holding 3rd position. However I could not over turn him before the finish line and he claimed the bronze medal.
The race was won by Italy in a new â€˜World bestâ€™ time with Germany in second. However, I had the consolation of finishing my first senior World Championships in the A final and with a massive new PB of 6:53.28.
I took one Beet-it sport shot before each race and what amazed me from all the races was that even though I was working so hard in the first 1500m of the race, I could still step up my performance in the last 500m.
Even with all of the lactic acid that I was after building up I still had this freedom and ease of movement that helped me push past my competitors.