Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness (SUSF) Elite Athlete Program Alumnus and Rowing World Championship Silver Medallist, Cameron Girdlestone, takes a moment off the water to chat with SUSF about his Olympic thirst.                                                                    

Rio, it’s the 2016 talk of the sporting community. In terms of your training schedule, how many kilometres are you looking to smash on the road to Olympic selection?

I guess it’s a lot. Ultimately, the ‘Road to Rio’ for me started when I took my first rowing strokes at school (The King’s School) in 2003. A lot of kilometres have been conquered since then with different crews, however, the gains made in last year’s 2015 Australian Men’s Quadruple Scull are my most memorable to date. Standing on the podium last year at the World Rowing Championships was a dream come true and that is where the Olympic dream really felt real. Being this close to trials, every stroke counts.

What triggered the switch from cricket to rowing back in 2003? (p.s. we think you made the right choice!)

Cricket and rugby were my two big sports growing up at school and I loved both so much but getting out and sitting in the stands was frustrating. One day in Year 8 three of my best mates in the cricket team at the time said, “Let’s go rowing” and we joined the rowing program. We started at the bottom as the novices, but it was the challenge to get to the top and to be the best which had me hooked. I was instantly drawn to the challenge and the determination you needed to be competitive and succeed.

As an alumnus of the SUSF Elite Athlete Program, can you please shed some light on how you benefited most from the support offered?

I joined the program back in 2007 and was successful in gaining a spot at St Paul’s College. The support from SUSF allowed me to pursue my dual aim in life which was to successfully gain selection in the Australian Under 23 team and manage my university degree (Bachelor of Education: Human Movement and Health Education). Having this support, I felt I could manage each of my goals successfully and give each the ample amount of time and focus they needed.

You are clearly passionate about your sport, but you are also a PDHPE teacher. How important is this role to you?

My role at the Shore School is very important to me. When I came through school, I had teachers that inspired me to achieve and were considered close mentors. I now want to be able to give back and be there for the boys as a mentor and share my story and experiences with them to help them achieve their goals whatever they may be. Helping young boys develop and reach their goals is a great challenge and one that I am very passionate about.

Many of us are aware that rowers are on the water early while others are fast asleep. What drives you to get out of bed each day?

The alarm is a rower’s best friend as well as worst nightmare. There are definitely mornings that take longer to get going than others! The ultimate drive for me is the ‘challenge to succeed’ because when I set my mind on something and focus in, nothing will stop me, and waking up each morning is part of that challenge. Each morning the alarm goes off is one more call closer to succeeding.

I’ve heard whispers of a ‘good luck’ water bottle. Is this your secret to success?

Well, I am a little superstitious in that I do follow a routine with my training and competition. There were many years where the ‘lucky’ water bottle never missed a session or race but that is now on the mantelpiece.

Upcoming competitions, what’s next?

I guess the big ones for me at the moment are the final Olympic trials in February. This involves a series of trials with the first one being in the single scull where we receive ranking. From there we go through a series of double rotations, rowing different arrangements that will determine the fastest combinations for both the quadruple scull and the double scull.

What’s your mantra?

To ensure I never leave any stone unturned.

What’s on your bucket list?

Standing on the podium at the Olympics has to be No.1. After achieving that I will think more about a bucket list, but at the moment there is only one thing on it.

Greatest achievement to date?

Having my family and girlfriend at last year’s World Rowing Championships to witness me winning my first international medal – a silver.

Who inspires you?

Last year I had two crewmates, Karsten Forsterling and David Crawshay, who had been to the Olympics before and won medals. Receiving support and encouragement from two people who have achieved my dream was very inspiring. I’m also inspired by the determination and focus of all those around me who are also dedicated to achieving their dreams.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Making every day count, working hard and spending more time with family and friends. Giving every aspect of my life 100 percent.

Guilty pleasures?

Ice cream!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

I am determined and focused to achieve the goals I have set myself. The challenge to get there is what keeps me wanting more.