Callum Sullivan

Club: CUBC

Height: 194cm

School: Dartford Grammar School

International rowing record: U23 World Champion, men’s eight, 2019

Year you first started rowing: 2012

How have you coped this year?

The toughest part of this year’s training for me has been not seeing and training with my teammates every day. Usually this helps you through the toughest blocks and keeps you focused. I’ve had to find new ways to feel like I’m part of a bigger team than myself and my housemates, and to enjoy the other sides of training, particularly seeing progress each day towards the goal.

Could you build a strong team culture while training virtually?

The most important move was to run a training spreadsheet and to share training performances with each other. This got the conversations going between the guys and helped us push each other to a higher standard.

Were the isolated ergs better or worse than expected?

With the benefit of hindsight, it was a hugely useful process for us as athletes with a personal responsibility for our training. That being said, motivation became a challenge that never got easy. So on the whole, better.

What was your lockdown training set up?

I am lucky to live with five other athletes on the team. We filled our shed with dumbbells, plates and rowing machines and were pretty sorted. You could always find a training partner, as long as the sun was in the sky.

How do you cope with race day nerves?

It’s been so long since I raced that I can hardly remember, not very well as I recall. I tend to focus on the controllables and once those are taken care of, relax and watch a movie.

The biggest challenge?

Momentum. With crew changes every session it has been hard to consolidate technical steps and get comfortable in the line-ups. This is starting to come and will be pivotal to showing up prepared on race day.

The toughest session?

A couple of times this year we’ve done the max hour ergo, ‘hour of power’, which is like nothing I’ve done yet in this sport; knowing when you get halfway through how much it hurts and how far there is to go is a killer.

The best day, so far?

Trial VIIIs for sure, first time racing in 10 months and my first win in the Trial VIIIs.

Only the Blue Boat races on the 4th April 2021: What’s it like splitting the squad?

This was a huge challenge, with some fantastic athletes not being able to continue driving the standard.

Is it strange to train without the reserve eight?

A new and unexpected challenge for this year, we’re engineering other ways to test out performance, but there’s nothing as exciting as having another crew alongside you to duke it out with.

How did it feel getting back on the water?

A lot of fun – but soon lots of teething pains started to creep in for me, particularly with my wrists. These are sorting themselves out and I’m loving being back in the eight.

Why do you want to beat Oxford?

It’s such a historic race, and the margin between the number of wins on each side is so close. Since arriving four years ago, I’ve known how important it is to put another win in Cambridge’s tally. Also, it is the greatest opportunity I have to test myself, as a student athlete.