2016/17 Season Report

Posted: 16/08/2017 in Uncategorized

Hello all. A huge gap in the blog and not without good reason – something I will touch on in another blog entry. This one is about my athletes and a report on their success last season to date. Last time I wrote and I had to go back to re-read, was the start of the 16/17 race season shortly after the Devon 5km. Incidentally the 2017 event is now just weeks away!

We came out of the summer into the autumn generally in good shape. In one of my previous blogs I alluded to the fact we 2k time trialled at home in August and came away with some very satisfying results. After the 5km race in Devon we then revisited the 2km, but this time in a race environment at the Royal Navy Championships in early November.
2016 Royal Navy/Royal Marines Championships Royalnavy

With a number of races in short succession, this being the first of 3 over 7 weeks, trying to periodise and prioritise was tough. Too much of a taper meant missed training sessions, but not enough rest would result in very tired legs. I had to try and satisfy the needs of the athlete too. All had bust a gut all summer long to get into a position to race, but there was me telling them that we won’t specifically taper, but just rest slightly in the few days leading up to the race, then just have a go. It worked. The first time seeing my athlete’s race after at least 12 months with me [for most] produced some outstanding results. This was the boost most individuals needed, justifying their commitment of day in day out training with not a lot to show for it in the summer months.


James Thomson in the final charge to take the win. Coxed by myself and watched on by 3 time Olympic Gold medallist Pete Reed MBE

Craig Guest and James Thomson both hit PBs reaching the 6.15 marker and winning the Heavyweight Men’s 30s and 40s races respectfully. Had we raced them together it may have pushed them on further. Daz Hoare in the Men’s 40s and Tiny Nash in the Men’s 50s also both secured PBs, falling a second shy of the 6.20 barrier. Jim Hyde experimenting with a few things different came in after a tough fight just a few seconds down from a summer PB.


Lending Craig Guest a helping hand after his effort

The lightweight categories were represented by new comers Tim Cox and Ruth Guest. Tim, in the 40s raced to a PB just missing out on a sub 6.40 and after a far from ideal build up in the days prior. Ruth, largely rowing on her own and having been on the programme just a few months and less than a year from having her second child notched up a huge PB getting close to sub 7.40. Two outstanding performances and well deserved results.

The other 2 females were in the heavyweights. Alex Kelley in her first 2k race, second ever 2k, pulled a decent PB of 7.21 in the 30s group. Sally Thompson also in her first ever 2k race pulled what would be a season PB of 7.18 in the 40s heavyweights. Again both outstanding performances.


Sally Thompson ‘casually’ finishing a 7.18 2k

Other athletes [but no longer on the programme] were Matt Parkinson and Dan McMahon both pulling PBs and seasoned veteran Rory West who had a tough outing having being plagued with yet another heavy cold.
2016 Welsh Championships

A trip to Cardiff a few weeks later for our first National Championship where once again we raced without a full taper and a chance to race against stiffer opposition. More PBs and more medals were on the cards as the women dominated with Sally Thompson going under 7.20 again to take the win and beat the reigning British Champion in the process. Alex Kelley followed suit after rowing a modest race due to coming down with a horrible illness in the weeks prior. A steady first 1500m and a full on assault in the final 500m was enough to take Gold. Ruth Guest had to settle for silver against World Champion Anna Lewis in the 30s, but once again set another PB this time going under 7.40. Aaby Aldridge took her first National medal with a bronze after a memorable row in the Female Open event having barely trained all year due to injury.


Alex and Aaby picking up their first silverware in Wales



In the Men’s events, having been unchallenged at the RN Championships, after a gutsy row, Tim Cox was pipped at the post missing out on a medal – an unfortunate theme that would reoccur later in the season amongst a tough 40s lightweight field. The heavyweights took things by storm though with Craig Guest rowing a sensible race to win the 30s and Tiny Nash a class apart in the 50s way out in front racing the clock. Jim Hyde, despite his experience was still learning and left things late, but did enough to secure a Bronze and his first National medal. Jim is our most powerful athlete on the programme and proved that by taking a Silver in the 100m sprint just a short while after his 2k efforts.


Jim Hyde securing a Bronze 2k and Silver 100m in Cardiff


2016 British Championships

Another few weeks back to training and the next race was the main event of the year – The 2016 British Championships in London and this time we tapered. And what a day it was! Firstly I was delighted to have been asked onto the commentary team and took the honour of commentating on the Men’s Open race which hosted the GB Team. I was a touch excited to say the least!





In the commentary box in London with Jon Goodall

More importantly though we had the RN battling for honours across the age group categories and they didn’t disappoint. First up was Sally Thompson who faced a few demons after a tough few weeks and came out on top. Despite falling short of a PB and a medal, to finish 4th in her first British Championship amongst an experienced field is a remarkable achievement. Much the same was for Alex Kelley, with sheer guts and determination she rowed a perfect race to take a Silver and a 7.20 PB. Alex proved to be my hardest athlete to coach and only rowed with us part time as she is a phenomenal CrossFit athlete and unfortunately is no longer part of the programme. If she was to focus her attention to just rowing I have no doubt she would be incredibly successful.


An outstanding Silver for Alex Kelley in London

Staying with the ladies, Aaby Aldridge would row her last race under my guidance and she got a well deserved hug from me as I jumped down from the commentary position as she crossed the line. Rowing in the Female Open category and at 5 foot nothing, Aaby rows with a lot of heart. Despite missing out on place on the RN team for the World Championships she took a 7.40 PB amongst a field packed with Team GB women.


3 PB’s over 3 consecutive races and a British Bronze for lightweight Ruth Guest



Lightweight Ruth Guest was once again up against the formidable Anna Lewis, but took a wonderfully rowed bronze medal and a yet another PB, this time 7.35 rounding off a remarkable year and come back after child birth.


The men were next and the frightfully competitive 40s heavyweights hosting some household names. The race didn’t disappoint as James Thomson executed a brilliant race to move through the field in the final third securing 5th, just 1.3 seconds off the medals and securing an RNIRPP Team Record of 6.14.9 PB. Daz Hoare also continued to show his ever challenging presence and finished in the top 10 with a 6.20 PB.
The lightweights were once again represented by the emerging Tim Cox still in his first season, but rowing amongst familiar opposition and finishing like in Wales just outside of the medals in a very respectable 4th. Then it was onto the Men’s 50s and Tiny Nash. Tiny rowed his best race on the day but it wasn’t enough to take the win. Despite pulling a 6.20 PB he was pipped by the former World Champion whom he would go up against again a few months later in Boston.


Second spot for Tiny at the British



Finally the Men’s 30s and Jim Hyde’s final race in this category before making the jump up – although it’s very much out of the frying pan into the fire as both categories are brutal. Just missing a top 10 spot, but a deserved PB of 6.24 and another step forward was the result. And then finally Craig Guest who having took Gold in Wales was going to be up against tougher opposition. With the first heat exposing a quick time it was important to get that information to Craig as the on the screen places would not be accurate. He ensured the job was done with a bronze medal and 6.15.0 PB to match.


A Bronze each for the Guests and a break from the commentary box for me

After the main event it was exhibition stuff and a blast against the two Team GB Men’s teams. A respectful 4th and a show of power was a site to watch even if our non-rehearsed change overs weren’t!



Support from a certain Jurgen Grobler after the Men’s relay

After London it was a tough transitional period, as it is every year, moving through the Christmas period. It’s too demanding and non-conducive to keep hammering away at the race type preparation, but bearing in mind Boston is only a matter of weeks away it was important to keep things ticking over, Amongst the usual winter bugs we came out the other side largely unscathed and in fact with Tiny Nash setting a new, albeit modest British Record in the 6km. I say modest as he beat it first time around during a 6344m piece for the league, but of course couldn’t submit it. As a standalone 6km TT he actually went slower, but this will be revisited in due course.
2017 English Championships

A small contingent headed to Manchester and did what was required racing probably their most un-prepared race in terms of tapering, with Boston just 7 days later. James Thomson did what he had to do and took a routine Silver in the Men’s 40s but on very tired legs.


Maybe not quite a ‘routine’ Silver – but job done for James Thomson



Daz Hoare once again rowed a strong race at PB pace, but agonisingly missed out on a medal by 0.2 seconds. Jim Hyde rowed a tired 6.25 but still managed a top 10. Tiny Nash was as predicted unchallenged to take a routine Gold and Tim Cox finally got a well deserved Silver medal in the Lightweight Men. The rest of the team opted out and stayed away.


Finally a well deserved Silver for Tim Cox in Manchester






2017 World Championships

‘Back to Boston’ as the blog title suggests once again wasn’t on the cards for me as this time I pulled out due to health reasons which were largely out of my control. Watching and communicating from afar I did all I could, but it was largely down to each individual to execute their pre arranged race plan.

Alex Kelley rowed her final race under my guidance and finished a very respectable 5th in the Women’s 30s Heavyweights with 7.21. Alex suffered a pulled hamstring in the weeks prior to the event and had very little preparation, so to finish just 1 second off PB is remarkable.


Coxed by Tiny Nash, Alex Kelley racing to finish 5th


An error by the organisers meant Ruth Guest rowed in a separate heat to her rivals so largely time trialled as opposed to raced and led from start to finish. Once the results from the other heats came through, 4th was the result – Bronze may just have been outside of her reach, but we’ll never know. Either way a truly outstanding season.

The same went for Daz Hoare who unbeknown to us had to row in a separate heat and led from start to finish. Mentally trying to stick to your game plan and having no-one to chase made it a tough lonesome affair for Daz who finished down on his PB and 9th once all the results were in. Jim Hyde however rowed the race of his career to date and executed it to perfection to PB in 6.23.7. Jim is a fine example of a first class work ethic with sheer commitment and determination.  A season of ups and downs yet producing the goods at this stage doesn’t happen by accident and I was delighted he finished on a high. However in a desperately unfortunate turn of events James Thomson had to pull out just minutes before his race with injury. I was truly gutted and disappointed for him as he was on true form, but his time will come again.


Daz Hoare back alongside team mates after an isolated row in Boston



British Bronze medallist Craig Guest usually a force to be reckoned with and was good for a 4th spot finish was way down the pack, but not without good reason. Craig did near to nothing in terms of training between Christmas and race day due to work commitments so literally came along for the ride and finished 12th in the Men’s 30s.
Tim Cox experiencing his first World Championships as usual battled extremely hard to PB and go under 6.40 which rewarded him a top 6 finish. Incidentally just a week after Boston I did some closer work with Tim where we changed one or two things and got a 6.38 PB – we now know for next season.


A satisfying end for Tim Cox’s debut season










And finally the stand out performer, Tiny Nash representing in the Men’s 50s Heavyweights produced the performance of the season and his life to PB with a remarkable 6.18 and a World Championship Bronze Medal to match. Tiny has and is an absolute pleasure to coach and whom I hold in the highest regard due to his determination, attention to detail and trust.


A class apart – Tiny Nash taking Bronze in the USA




2017/18 Season

So here we are, all the above just a distant memory as we’re about to embark on this new race season starting in Devon shortly and then onto the same races as last year. It’s worth noting in that time we have lost one or two athletes, but the team stands at 10 strong having taken on Royal Marine Sam Arnold. Also I have had the pleasure on taking on my former team mate and friend Jo Allsebrook who brings a wealth of experience and further ambition.


Multiple British & European Champion and British Record holder Jo Allsebrook

The programme has largely consisted of the same routine type training this year, but this time around I have paid particular attention to other areas and shortfalls from last year. As normal, not being full time athletes and all with different life stresses, ages, family commitments, jobs etc the juggling act remains in full force day in day out. It certainly keeps me on my toes. We’re yet to attack any 2km type work and have largely focused on aerobic capped distance training. This training has produced many training piece and middle to long distance TT PBs for much of the team. Most notably Tiny Nash who continues to impress, recently smashing the Men’s 50s Heavyweight Half Marathon British Record. He has other disciplines in his sites too.

I’ll attempt to stay current in my recording of events as the race season develops this year as well as documenting my situation after rowing, after all this blog has documented my journey from the start. It’s not been pretty to say the least, but will find time to sit down and document it in good time.
Until then, thanks for reading. See you at the races ……

Ollie Osborne
Royal Navy Indoor Rowing Performance Programme Head Coach.


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