Adam Neill retains his indoor rowing title leaving Bradley Wiggins in his wake
The British Indoor Rowing Championships (BRIC17), held at the Lee Valley VeloPark on Saturday, showcased everything that is great and good about rowing. It was friendly, noisy, athletic, diverse, inclusive and collaborative. The sheer determination of the adaptive rowers to be the very best athletes they can be despite their physical restrictions was utterly humbling and inspiring. The sight of GB girls supporting their fellow relay athletes having only just finished theirs, magical. And the complete range of ages and abilities across all of the events, uplifting.
Adam Neill retained his title for a second year winning in 5:48:2, three seconds off the 5:45:0 he was aiming for. Speaking to WEROW after the race Neill said “We’re still quite tired from our altitude camp in the Sierra Nevada. We were out there for two weeks and got back on Wednesday so it’s quite tough coming back down from a really big training camp and then trying to do a high-performance piece”. Neill, who is 6ft 8in and 107 kg, was part of the M8+ that came 7th at the World Rowing Championships in Sarasota.
The morning session was obviously dominated by the impending arrival of Bradley Wiggins. The press corps he attracted set up camp directly in front of Blue Zone Erg 12 and that’s pretty much where they stayed, soon to disappear as quick as they came. The GB men entered the arena individually and Wiggins followed at the head of the remaining competitors, dressed in a Blue Adidas top with a crisp white headband restraining his enormous mop of hair. He laid out a brilliant white towel folded in half on his seat and sat down to nervously adjust his footplate.
Bradley Wiggins enters the velodrome for BRIC17
After the start Wiggins stopped rowing for one stroke after 6 strokes, mishearing an instruction to the adjacent red zone. He later claimed in a tweet this “schoolboy error” cost him his target of 6:02 – he turned in 6:22:5 finishing 21st. His first split of 1:35:5 was his fastest but his last slipped to 1:40:1 compared to Neill’s last split of 1:23:4. At the end of the event, Wiggins simply got up from his machine and walked away from the throng and into the basement of the venue. The press pack looked on bemused as clearly, this was now going to be an extremely short and disappointing assignment.
James Cracknell was left in the velodrome to continue his role as spokesman for Wiggins. He told The Telegraph “That kind of mistake will get in your head. You saw that the experienced guys just carried on. It’s a similar thing to the Boat Race. If there’s a clash, you don’t stop unless the other boat stops. Brad had been looking very strong in the first 500m.” Given the vast experience Wiggins has of dealing with pressure it’s more likely that he’s simply not as fit as he thought.
Towering over the reporters after his win Adam Neill was asked if Wiggins would stand any chance of getting into the GB team. Neill said “Obviously Bradley is an unbelievably fantastic sportsman and I guess for the average joe you would say it’s not possible but for Bradley Wiggins who knows what’s possible for that guy. Rowing on a rowing machine and rowing on the water are different sports and he still has to learn that bit but I don’t see why he cant give it a go”.
Amongst the young, athletic men of the open men’s class, Bradley Wiggins looked old, out of place and slightly silly. Given the build-up to this event, it was probably inevitable it would end in disappointment. But it also highlighted just how much talent was either side of Blue Zone Erg 12.
We will be publishing further images from the event this week. All the results from BRIC17 can be found here.
Images & text copyright WEROW Life/Angus Thomas