With sport fever in the air at the moment, we here at b**p decided to talk to a Gateshead teenager, Abbi Cockbain, who is one of the best rowers in the country. Read this exclusive interview to find out more about her training, other interests and inspirations.
You may even be tempted to pick up an oar yourself…
How often do you train and where do you train?
I train at Tyne United Rowing Club, or TURC, for short.
At the club, I train five times a week; Monday, Wednesday, twice on Saturday and Sunday. During the winter, only the Saturday and Sunday are on the water because it gets too dark in the evenings. During the summer, we have the major events so we’ll train more then.
Do you have a preference of workout music?
I don’t really have a preference as our workouts change each time and that means the music changes too. For example, when I’m doing a long ergo, I use longer songs, such as ‘The Day I Die’ by South Central. However, for shorter pieces, I use faster and more upbeat music such as ‘Gayelle’ by Mangoseed.
How many calories do you eat and is it hard maintaining a diet?
I don’t really count calories but I eat loads of carbs especially before a competition. I do try to eat healthily the majority of the time but I know I do eat a lot more than my friends who don’t row!
What comes first: school work or rowing?
I’d like to say rowing, but I know that it shouldn’t be! School is definitely more important.
Are your friends supportive of your rowing?
Most of my friends are sports fanatics as well so they understand. As for my other friends, who aren’t very sporty, they try to plan around me and know that rowing will often come first!
What would you say to a young boy or girl wanting to take up a sport?
Go for it. Definitely. The only thing stopping you from achieving your goals is yourself. Once you’ve passed that stage, you’ve got it all, you can be who you want to be.
Do you have any interests outside of rowing? If so what are they and do you get much time to enjoy them?
I do quite a lot of swimming, both indoor and out. I prefer open water swimming to indoor though, it’s more like rowing! I also really like reading, which I tend to do on the way to my training sessions and during school.
Do you ever get frustrated when you can’t train for whatever reason?
Last year, I had a bad sporting injury. During a training session, I’d managed to pull the ligaments in my left foot. I was on crutches for about a week and it also meant I couldn’t do any training for four weeks and was only allowed to do easy training (like gentle swimming) for two weeks following that. It was really hard to not get upset about not training but I knew that if I’d been training whilst still injured, I’d just have made myself worse. If it is because of the weather, then I don’t really get frustrated as I know I can do another thing, such as indoor rowing or circuit training, which is just as good.
How old where you when you first picked up an oar and what encouraged you to pick up an oar?
In year 7, we had a school rowing competition, which lead to me being picked to do the local competitions, representing the school, then the county. After this, TURC received funding to get new juniors starting rowing. The scheme was aimed at older years, but my PE teacher decided to take me along, so I guess I owe my rowing successes so far to her.
I began rowing early year 8 and I haven’t looked back since.
How do you feel about the fact sportswoman get paid only a fraction of what sportsmen get paid?
I don’t think that it is fair as both men and women give their all and should be paid equal amounts.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
In ten years, I hope to be competing internationally in my single, maybe even training for the Olympics.
Do you have a role model in your life and who is it?
I don’t have one specific role model in my life as I admire different people for different things. For their determination, I’d probably say Rebecca Adlington, whom I’ve admired since I was about ten.
Do you get funding to partake in rowing?
Unfortunately, no. I did, however, receive a grant and a free gym pass recently following my success at the Junior Interregional Regatta (JIRR) and the National Championships. I wish I did get funding as it would enable me to buy better kit and, if I got enough, a boat which would enable me to train easier and compete in more events.
What are our chances of seeing you in Rio in 2016?
Chances of Rio are quite low as I’m still young in the rowing community. Many athletes in rowing don’t start competing in high levels like the Olympics until they’re at least twenty years old.
Are you ranked?
Yes, I’m fifth best of my age group (WJ14) in the country. This was taken at the Junior Inter-regionals and the National Championships in my single. At JIRR, the boat I competed in wasn’t right for me and I nearly ended up sinking it!
PHOTO CREDIT AL JOHNSTON
This story was featured in our first print edition which is available now in schools and by contacting Yasmine@bringingwords.org