London 2012: The Two Toms
As well as home advantage and the much-vaunted ‘Dorney roar’ to bring him home, the 28-year-old is also relying on another secret weapon at the London 2012 Games – wing man Tom Dyson, Lead Coach for the GB Rowing Team Paralympic Programme.
Speaking at Caversham in the run-up to the regatta, Dyson explained his approach to competing at possibly the most spectacular Paralympics ever held.
“We’ve tried to get across to the guys the importance of treating it as just another rowing race. The same preparation has being working for us over the last four years. We’ve had some pretty good results.”
He added, “Clearly it’s going to be incredibly exciting for everyone – I don’t think we can overplay the level of support judging by the Olympics.”
The former Cambridge University lightweight rower joined the GB Rowing Team in 2007 after a placement at the King’s School Parramatta in Australia and is enjoying the challenge of working with a smaller squad.
“The biggest difference is the individuality of it all,” he says. “You have to plan the training programme, the equipment and keep track of slightly different health conditions. We work with smaller numbers here so we have a chance to really make sure that everything is working well.
“The interesting part is that the athletes are very different in the way that they can apply force and you have to get inside what they’re feeling.”
The success of the two Toms is based more on a discussion than the usual coach and athlete relationship, says Dyson.
“I can’t understand fully what he can and can’t do in the boat. I’m relying on him to tell me what’s it’s like to row.
“I tried being in his boat and it’s not easy to do! It feels very different from a normal sculling boat. So in many ways Tom’s the expert and I’m just trying to guide him to improve what he’s doing.”