Ben Pritchard plans to make his experience count when he takes to the water at the upcoming World Rowing Championships next week, writes Tom Masters, Sportsbeat.
The Swansea rower will be heading to Belgrade looking to back up his world bronze medal from Racice last year in his PR1 single sculls competition.
There are not just medals at stake this time around with Paralympic quota spots up for grabs in the Serbian capital, and the 31-year-old has not raced this season due to injury.
But he had plenty of knowledge of racing at this level compared to many of those he will be up against, something he believes will be key.
He said: “I was looking at the entries recently and there were ten people that have not raced before, so it’ll be really interesting to see where they fit in the mix.
“There’s people that I’ve raced before and I know where they’d sit. It’s going to be interesting to see where those new athletes fit in the field. Hopefully I can fit in as well and get a top-seven finish, and qualify a space for next year.
🏆2023 World Rowing Championships 🏆
The #GBRowingTeam are tackling 7 days of racing in Belgrade, Serbia 🇷🇸 🇬🇧
Find live results on the British Rowing website 👇 https://t.co/kUeNKs5I4l
Watch the racing on @WorldRowing's live stream 👇 https://t.co/fQ1ppa633I pic.twitter.com/v1Z30ezX0H
— British Rowing (@BritishRowing) September 4, 2023
“The last qualification regatta in Austria was my first-ever international championships, and it’s the biggest championship that anyone will go to, especially on the para side as we’re integrated alongside the able-bodied athletes. When you get to the Paralympics it’s a lot quieter, so it’s probably the biggest event we’ll go to as a para squad.
“It’s going to be busy and nerve-wracking, but I’ve been there and done it – I did it as my debut. It’s nice to go back now. I know how it works and know what the racing profile looks like. Hopefully I can put my experience to good use.”
Injuries are rarely easy to rehab from and Pritchard has faced challenges as he returns from two recent surgeries and a bone graft.
However, he believes he could not have had better support throughout his recovery, and the arrival of daughter Efa in June has given him an extra sense of perspective throughout recent months.
“We’ve got a great support team here, the physios, coaches, doctors – they’ve made sure I’ve been keeping training,” said Pritchard.
“I’ve got a couple of good friends outside of here that run swim groups and cycling classes, so I’ve been going and doing a lot of them to try and keep fit. The last eight weeks out in Varese, my form and fitness has really found a new level – I shouldn’t be too far from where I was off last year.
Benjamin Pritchard of @CSRCracing makes a fantastic start to his paralympic qualification campaign, finishing first in his heat with lengths of clear water👏
He'll join Erik Horrie 🇦🇺, Roman Polianskyi 🇺🇦 and Giacomo Perini 🇮🇹 in the A/B semi finals on Friday morning⏱️ pic.twitter.com/vvBD1DWCZo
— British Rowing (@BritishRowing) September 5, 2023
“Being a father, it’s a massive change of perspective. It kind of shows you that rowing is just your day job, and that there’s a lot more to life than going fast backwards.
“It’s the best thing ever. I can’t wait to get back from Serbia to resume ‘Daddy Day Care’ and have some great times in my offseason!”
British Rowing is searching for the next generation of GB Rowing Olympians & Paralympians - could that be you? The Olympic Pathway programme recruits and develops individuals with no prior rowing experience who have the potential to become Olympic rowers. Learn more at britishrowing.org/performance-development-academies.
Similarly, visit our website to learn more about our successful Paralympic Programme and register for testing: https://www.britishrowing.org/gb-rowing-team/para/. The GB Rowing Team is supported by the National Lottery Sports Fund.