The outbreak of coronavirus has transformed a variety of people, acting as the worst public health emergency for the last century. The sporting world was no exception and has been adversely influenced by the effects of this year's global pandemic. COVID-19 has impacted athletes worldwide, one of which is a dedicated J15 rower who’s training regime has been altered by COVID. Theo Elliot, from Hampton School Boat Club will be speaking based on his experiences. 

You've been anticipating the start of your J15 year of rowing, which you claim grants you more freedom in terms of boat selection. For starters Theo, I would like to ask you how you felt starting your J15 year, knowing you will be training under the COVID restrictions. 

Theo: When I thought of my J15 year over the summer holidays, I was worried that COVID would affect my training regime much more than it actually did. It is still fair to say the COVID restrictions did affect us and our training, but not to the extent that I had thought of. For instance, I had imagined that going out onto the river would be unpermitted as it had been during the summer; and using the rowing machines seemed to also not be an option because it gave the virus the opportunity to spread. Fortunately, I was allowed to express my talent on the river, however I was obliged to spend time cleaning the boats after use in order to help prevent the spread of COVID. 

I believe that you must endure approximately ten hours of rowing a week. COVID cases and restrictions may well start to increase, and just as we’ve seen before, regattas and other rowing events may be cancelled. Knowing this, do you think your efforts in training are worth it? 

Theo: Yes absolutely – even if all my efforts eventually amount to nothing, and races during summer are indeed cancelled, rowing is my passion; and all the time I spend training not only helps me with my physicality but also my happiness, mental health and with stress relief. Rowing as crew has also helped me bond new friendships with my colleagues, so I think it's fair to say that medals aren't the only things gained from a sporting life. 

Annually at your boat club, there is a major boat racing competition which I'm sure you were looking forward to, as this J15 year granted you entry into the event. From my understanding, it occurred last weekend and due to COVID the schedule was changed slightly. How did the day go? And how do you think it would have compared to a normal racing day? 

Theo: Even though the day was relatively different, the level of enjoyment stayed the same. Instead of racing against other local schools, as that is what would've happened without COVID, we instead formed four separate crews and raced against each other. The day itself was enjoyable to say the least. I suppose racing against other schools would've put forth an entirely new experience, however doing my first piece as a crew proved to be an exhilarating experience nonetheless. Rowing against my own boat club also allowed my coaches to advise us all on our pieces collectively so that later we could perform a lot better. 

It seems that you’ve remained rather optimistic about your rowing career despite the pandemic! Thank you, Theo, for commenting on your views to training with COVID. It is clear that having a positive mindset, no matter the situation you are in will always get you far in whatever you aspire to achieve.