René (left) and his Bristol crew mates at BUCS Regatta 2016
Mental Health: Remembering René Zamudio one year on
A new calendar year brings a clean slate and resolutions for an improved version of yourself. Quintin Head is a tangible manifestation, offering the opportunity to kick-start the new year. This year, Quintin induced a further layer of emotion for Imperial College Boat Club. January 2018 marks one year since René Zamudio died.
The chances are you know someone, or know someone who knows someone who has been directly affected by mental health. It is the leading cause of death of men under 35 in the UK. Over three out of four suicides are by men. The male suicide rate is approximately 22 per 100,000 people.
René rowing at 2, racing the 2016 Fuller’s Head of the River Fours for Imperial College
René was an active member of Imperial, having joined in September 2016. His rowing journey began as a novice at Bristol University, before moving to Imperial for a masters degree.
Positivity radiates from those two sentences. A young man, pursuing further study. Challenging himself at another university, in another city. Engaging with the diverse, progressive student sports system in this country.
The enjoyment derived from rowing is conspicuous. A sunny Saturday morning on the Thames is abuzz with people of all ages and abilities. Regular sport brings a host of concomitant benefits to health and wellbeing. These are the very pursuits which add value to one’s life.
Off The Record – OTR is a mental health social movement by and for young people aged 11-25 living in Bristol and South Gloucestershire
Yet, evidently, this is insufficient.
What is experienced on the surface, in everyday interactions can be disaggregated from that of the individual. Discerning how someone perceives the seemingly routine is impossible if we don’t communicate.
A university society such as our own is in an enviable position. When questioned on motivation, one of the first words uttered by a rower is camaraderie. In it together. At 05:45am. On the start blocks. At 1250m gone.
This should diffuse beyond mere rowing concerns. We must do more to create an environment which is open and safe. It is the least we can do. To wear a vest which promotes these concepts. To unite with Bristol University Boat Club. To raise money for charities whose reach is beyond our own. We have a moral imperative to aspire to more than just sporting excellence.
That’s the beauty of rowing. Each stroke is a fresh start, a chance to do something better than before. It’s up to us to use it.
Article by Christopher Au