A lot of people have worked extremely hard in all corners to help us hold the Boat Race and that is important to recognise. We realise how lucky we are, and it is an opportunity to support the tradition of the race. As well as the clubs and the individual rowers, it is the race that we are supporting, and I am very grateful for that.
The rowers are delighted to be on the water preparing for the race with their friends. They are clearly very happy to be allowed to go rowing and to compete. Come what may, the crew are determined to make the most of it. And as a coaching team we will support the rowers and help them to reach their potential in what is obviously a limited period of time on the water. We have hardly rowed this year, we are so short of rowing time, but we are not scrambling to make it up. We had to adapt, and we looked at the training side of things carefully. Before returning to the water, we simulated the fixtures on the land via intrateam weekend competitions on the ergo and they were actually a lot of fun. It provided a flavour of the competition for the rowers who did well, but it is still hard to artificially recreate the intensity of a long side-by-side fixture. Given the circumstances, we have done as well as we can.
Very few people get into the sport because they want to be a single sculler and they want to spend time on their own. Rowers row in teams because they enjoy the collective effort, the company of teammates and the shared bond of a love for their sport. All of those things have been tested or taken away for much of the year. Our athletes were desperate to have this race and when the uncertainty of whether the event would be held was finally lifted the excitement to compete was tangible.
The Boat Race is a real fixture in the national sporting calendar, and it is a privilege to be a part of it. I hope together with Cambridge we can put on the best show possible and create a few moments of lightness and enjoyment for people watching at home.