Blog: Keep your eye on the ball

By Maartje Damen, member of the Dutch Women’s Eight rowing team, April 30, 2020

In the life of a rower, about everything is dedicated to getting the best out of yourself. We wake up early to train, we eat healthy, we motivate and support each other and constantly keep each other on our toes. We pressure ourselves day after day; every training we do our best to make it the most effective exercise possible. All with that one goal in mind: becoming the best team we possibly can be and to achieve the highest results attainable.

This is the mentality that is going to bring us places. And that is the mentality that we share with Kiwa. But how are we going to keep our heads up and our spirits high during these lockdown days? How can we deal with our career in rowing when it’s full of cancelations and postponements?

Dealing with disappointment

My focus is on rowing. Since the Corona outbreak, our hour day-to-day rhythm has changed drastically, as applies to so many people worldwide. My teammates and I are all training from home, doing our best to help flatten the COVID-19 curve. This means not seeing each other in person, not rowing on the water together, and when a training is tough or mentally draining, you only have yourself to get you through it. I’m very much goal-driven in all aspects of live, and in rowing as well. Covid-19 has made sure that all rowing races this year have been cancelled or postponed, and that hit me like a ton of bricks.

Keep up the rowing spirit

This training season we all kept our eyes on the same ball: qualification for the Tokyo Olympic games 2020. Most of us have worked towards or dreamed about this goal for years and it suddenly ceased to exist. I paused my studies and moved to another city. We went on training camp and trained our asses off every day to get to the ultimate level; earning a place at the Olympics in Tokyo. Would it all have been for nothing?

Luckily, we have an awesome crew and coaches that know how to deal with these emotions. Each morning we share an inspirational, motivational or honest message to start the day off well and to remember that we get through this as a team. We videocall every regularly to share how we feel and to have a laugh together, and our coach calls us to keep in contact and keep the spirits high.

Ergometer at home

There are days that everything seems fun and good and are full of positive energy, and there are days when things don’t seem to be that good. By sharing these feelings, we are helping each other and improving our team spirit day by day. Slowly, we are all learning to cope with this strange situation and making the best out of it. And as time passes, our goals will become clearer. Our Olympic dream has never really been gone!

Opportunity to learn

These months give us a unique change to get to know ourselves, to learn who we are and why we do this. Although we are not training on the water right now, we can keep improving. We’re getting stronger mentally and physically every day, and we will be back better than we were.

This period has setbacks for almost all of us; it has a big impact on everybody, everywhere. I hope these months give you time to reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses and your own ambitions. Covid-19 may keep us home-bound for now; but we won’t let this keep us from doing what we love: training hard and becoming the best team possible.