Poles apart, yet still connected by sport.

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Hands being strapped ready for a fitness session.

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"It's important to know that at the end of the day it's not the medals you remember. What you remember is the process- what you learn about yourself by challenging yourself, the experiences you share with other people, the honesty the training demands - those are things nobody can take away from you whether you finish twelfth or you're an Olympic Champion." Silken Laumann - Canadian Olympian who overcame injury to win a bronze and a silver medal in single sculls rowing in 1992 and 1996.

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Poles apart, yet still connected by sport.

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Boxing vs. Rowing

As of 26th April 2012 there were 100 days left until the start of the Olympics. Every sport was being written about, reported on, photographed, promoted and supported more than ever before in the UK, some more than others. Two sports at which the United Kingdom has always done well are rowing and boxing. These sports both have a long British tradition and both were codified here.

 

However, in so many respects they are worlds apart. Both have a dedicated group of sports men and women who train and live with their chosen sport every day.  Both require athleticism, strength and dedication, but the people who take part in these sports are worlds apart socially. The sport of rowing is available at a handful of public schools, elite universities and socially inaccessible clubs across the UK, whilst  amateur boxing has long been seen as a way for the working man or unemployed youth from the wrong side of the tracks to ‘better themselves’.

 

The Lynn AC Boxing Club was founded in 1892, and is the oldest amateur boxing gym in the UK. Situated between Peckham and Camberwell, the area surrounding the gym has one of the highest crime rates in London. However the gym seems to be a refuge for people who want to avoid the gangs and crime and turn to something more productive which many believe could be their ticket to a better life. Some of the boxers start from an early age and others are encouraged by their friends. Some of the boxers come as a way to keep out of gang crime and to find a new direction to focus their energy.

 

The University of London Boat Club on the Thames in Chiswick was also set up more than 100 years ago, in the 1860’s. Mainly Postgraduate students at the London School of Economics, these athletes are destined for a senior career in business. Rowing for these athletes is something they do purely for recreation. But no one should think that this makes them any less competitive. Regular gym sessions, with a 7 a.m. start on the water come rain or shine, are part of a normal week’s training.  

 

Although they train and compete for different reasons, both groups of sports people train hard for what they believe in.

 

These rowers and boxers are socially poles apart but united in the drive and dedication they show to help them achieve their sporting goals.