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Castore athlete series - Q & A with Joel Cassells
Joel is a Team GB rower who has already made his mark on the senior stage during the past two years, winning Gold at the World and European Championships in the 2000m lightweight pair. His ambitions now are firmly set on retaining those titles in 2018 and 2019, before challenging for the ultimate honour of Gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
What are your key goals in the next 12 months?
Always a tricky question to answer. If I look at what I've achieved in the last 4 years, what sticks out is becoming a senior world champion in 2015. Its something I’ll always look back on with immense pride, but I'm always driving for the next goal, and that is more gold medals.
My goal for 2017 is to be selected for the World Rowing Championships in Sarasota, Florida. I’ll be aiming for either the lightweight men’s four or the lightweight men’s double scull. Both boats are incredibly competitive, we have an intensely competitive lightweight squad all searching for a seat too. Though that ruthless competition is what makes us fast.
What are you aiming to achieve at Tokyo 2020?
Tokyo 2020 is the ultimate goal. Though just getting there isn't enough for me, I want a gold medal around my neck, its as simple as that.
To get that Olympic gold I need to improve on all areas a rower focuses on. Strength, stamina, and technical will all equally improve my chances of earning my seat. The Sinkovic Brothers are a great example to search for on youtube, their technique in the boat is incredible!
What areas of your performance are you most focussed on improving before Tokyo?
This year I’ve taken a change to how I approach my training to focusing on specific heart rate training zones. You have different zones for different intensities you want to achieve, so by sticking to them you should keep building endurance whilst saving energy and power for faster more intensive training sessions. I’ve also made an switch in focus on my sculling, which in rowing terms means rowing with two oars instead of one. Its been paying off so far, i’ve been seeing good improvements.
Which athlete from another sport do you admire and why?
I love rugby so i’d have to say Dan Carter; probably the best fly half there is. Tenacious, courageous Kiwi, though what i respect most of all is his humility. He's someone who doesn't strut about, he's so grounded and humble about it. I think those are the qualities of a true athlete.
What single characteristic would you say is most important in becoming Olympic champion?
I think the biggest attribute i’ve seen in Olympians its knowing when to switch ‘off’. Katherine Grainger was the best rower I've seen doing this. She was so chilled off the water, yet when it came to her racing she switched ‘on’ to the awesome athlete thats achieved 5 Olympic medals over the past 16 years.
etabix, some skimmed milk and orange juice. Grab my bag and head off to our base in Caversham, Reading.
07:30: First session of the day, normally a long row working on endurance and aerobic fitness. Also useful to burn the Christmas pudding off, as i resemble one after the holidays.
09:00 Second breakfast, normally a big bowl of porridge with some nuts and seeds, with some eggs for a protein boost.
11: Next session is on the water again, this time a shorter more intensive session focusing on speed and efficiency.
12:00 Lunch time; our team chef always produces something amazing. This normally contains all the nutrition we need to maintain muscle and energy stores.
14:00 Final session of the day! Normally strength and conditioning, my favourite. Normally these sessions have specific focus to them and different outcomes at various stages of the year. At the moment we’ll be looking to build our strength then maintain it thought the rest of the year.
16:00: Home time! So now its time for a short break, then try and hit to books for a few hours. Sometimes after a brutal day this can be a mountain to climb..
18:00/19:00 Dinner time. I live with two other rowers so we take it in turns to make the dinner. My favourite is stir fry because its so easy to make and you wont lose all those gains from the gym. Though my housemate Tim makes a mean Sri Lanka-style curry thats hard to resist..
19:00 Down time. I either try to have a bit more time studying, then finish off the night watching tv and trying to switch off then its off to bed. Netflix’s Designated Survivor is my favourite at the moment, and the Grand Tour.
What’s your favourite piece of Castore clothing and why?
My favourite bit of Castore kit has to be the Warwick Tee. Its a classy product and is my item of choice whether on the rowing machine, running or just in the gym. You know the first time you put it on that true thought has gone into every aspect of its design; the bonded seams being a highlight, no chafing like in lesser brands.