Coronavirus struggle for rising GB rower

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On January 6th, 2022, Matthew Fielding contracted covid 19 and was wiped out for three months. This stopped him from being part of this year’s GB rowing team for the U23 World Championships.

He began rowing when he was 13 years old, just 7 years ago, and could have never imagined the success he would have.

He has rowed for three different clubs across his rowing career and now rows for the prestigious club, Leander.

Matthew,20, from East Renfrewshire (pictured above), is still determined to make his mark on the sport.

Matthew rowing in a double boat at the U23 GB December Championships (picture credit: Peter Sheppard).

For years, Matthew has worked tirelessly to try and become a success at rowing, putting in hours of hard work and quite literally, blood, sweat and tears.

The 20-year-old has now been working at the sport for years and it has taken over his life.

“When I’m not rowing, it sounds cliché, but I’m thinking about rowing. I watch a lot of rowing videos and I’m just very interested in it. I have missed out on quite a few events because of rowing and it has taken over my life completely, which is not something I’m against,” the 20-year-old says.

‘I was gutted’

Matthew’s first rowing club was Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club, which is located on the Clyde River in Glasgow Green. He rowed for Clydesdale for 6 years before moving to the more advanced club, Edinburgh University, where he had the opportunity to row for GB in the 2021 European Championships.

Matthew said he is grateful for his coach at Edinburgh as he gave him opportunities, he “never thought would actually happen”.

Matthew,13, (on the right) rowing in one of his first races in a double skull (picture credit: Clydesdale Rowing Club).

Initially looking at him as a young boy, you would never have imagined the success he was going to achieve. One of his first club picture shows a young boy lacking in rowing technique. Looking at him now, you could say he’s a true athlete.

Across the two years of lockdown, Matthew didn’t contract coronavirus until a crucial point in his rowing career. He only began to grow worried about his situation when he realised, he might not be able to make GB trials at the beginning of February.

“At first, I wasn’t really that worried because the symptoms I’d had during it weren’t that bad. I was just a bit tired and then after that I was fine. It was after when I started training again and then walking up a flight of stairs would take me a while to get over. I would be so out of breath.

“Then I started to worry about the rest of the season. Would I have to pull out of trials? And then I did. I was gutted, because obviously the start of the season was going so well. Everything was going to plan and then obviously getting coronavirus put a huge dent in my rowing performances, “said Matthew.

Matthew fixing oar
Matthew fixing his oar on the Clyde River (photo credit: jamandhiscam)

Matthew was out of full-time training for three months. The fatigue the virus caused was too much for him to train properly. All of his hard work on the lead up to trials was soon lost and he was forced to pull out.

He was training to be part of Team GB for the U23 World Championships 2022, which is a big deal in the rowing world. The event is to take place in Varese in the Northern part of Italy in July of this year.

Regardless of this disappointment, Matthew was accepted to row with the historic club Leander, which has a reputation for producing GB athletes. It’s one of the oldest rowing clubs in the world and was founded in 1818 on the Thames. He is rowing at high performance level, aspiring to be in the GB team and hoping to be at Henley Regatta this year.

Matthew and crewmate fixing feet

Matthew fixing his shoes on the boat with his crewmate( photo credits: jamandhiscam)

Henley regatta is a major rowing event which is very competitive to enter. Matthew will be attending a training camp in Banyoles, Spain, which will determine if he qualifies for Henley Regatta, where he will row for his new club, Leander.

Despite getting coronavirus and not making the GB team, Matthew will always be motivated. Rowing has taken over his life and he has never had a back-up plan, much to the distress of his parents.

“I’ve never thought about when I would ever quit. I’ve not really thought of a backup plan either. I just enjoy rowing so much that I don’t think about anything else in the future. I’ve never thought about a time past rowing,” says Matthew.

Although Matthew’s rowing career has taken a slight diversion, he is grateful for his bump in the road as its lead him to other opportunities. He hopes to be rowing on the GB team again in the future.

 

 

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