16 The Daily Telegraph Monday 31 August 2020 *** Sport Moe Sbihi I am feeling bereft – I owe Jurgen everything T I never expected it to be now. He has gone and it feels like unfinished business his week, I am heading back to the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake at Caversham. Like all the British team, I have been rowing alone on a machine in my garden since lockdown. Apart from an outing with my wife in a Canadian canoe on holiday, it will mean that, when I get back in a boat this week, it will be the first time I have been on the water in six months. It is the longest period in my sporting life that I have not held an oar in my hand. Strange times indeed. And when I set foot back in the training centre beside the lake, everything is going to feel very different. It is not just all the measures that have been installed by British Rowing to make it safe for us – the one-way systems, the hand-sanitising stations, the rowing machines spaced two metres apart – that will make the place seem odd. More it is who will not be there. For the first time in my rowing career, I will walk into that place and Jurgen Grobler will not be around. The man who has been head coach throughout my rowing life will not be there offering a quiet word of advice. He will not be there watching over you in the gym and he will not be there letting you know, if your standards have slipped. I cannot really deal with the fact he has gone, retired suddenly after 28 years in charge. Disappointed does not really begin to cover it. The fact is, I am bereft. to push people on and when to step away. Across a four-year programme, there are many peaks and troughs. There were nuances he would always understand and articulate to you. Over the course of three Olympic programmes, I have worked with him every day, one on one. He dictated my plan and he challenged me. He got me to achieve what I achieved. Now my day-to-day life is no longer governed by him. Now the person I go to has gone. And he was more than just the man I have tried to impress for nearly half my life. I put my trust in him. I signed up for another four years after Rio knowing he would be around. Tokyo was always going to be my swansong as well as his. And I thought we would go together. Now I am left behind. I guess as the only previous Olympian in the squad, the only surviving gold medallist, there is going to be an added responsibility on my shoulders now. There is a responsibility to make sure that remarkable record he set in train in 1992 of winning gold at every Games is maintained. But I think we all feel it. We all appreciate that 95 per cent of the work for Tokyo has been done already under Jurgen. It is up to us all to deliver the final five per cent without him. In the past, when I have competed at the Olympics, I have done it for myself, for my family and for the flag. But now I know I am doing it for him as well. The work starts now. This is Jurgen time. And what makes it worse is I am struggling to understand why he went, under a year out from the Tokyo Olympics. Sure, he has explained his reasons to me. I just never expected it to be now. We knew he was planning to go after the Games. But when they were postponed, the understanding was he would stay on to see everything through. Instead, he has gone and it feels like unfinished business. It has hit me hard, because the truth is I owe Jurgen everything. Over the past 10 years, my career has developed because of him, because of the programme he put in place for me. It changed me not just as an athlete, but as a person. I got a sense of that when the lockdown came and we all had to train in our back gardens. He gave us each an individual plan and I followed it to the letter, my data transmitted across to the coaching team – assisted by British Rowing’s official analytics partner, SAS – so they could study my progress. I know full well, 10 years ago, I would have found a way to skive out of it. I just would not have done it. That is nothing to do with being more mature with age. It is entirely to do with what he made me. I think we were all in awe of him. It was not that he scared you by shouting. If he came in every day screaming and bawling it would soon lose its effect. He had this great knack of knowing when to make a point. There is a German word for it: which translates as feeling it in your fingertips. He knew precisely when fingerspitzengefuhl, Fury sends out title challenge to Joshua Boxing By Gareth A Davies coronavirus crisis could change the sequence of fights. “If Wilder doesn’t happen, let’s do Joshua in December. Why not?” Fury said. “I’m ready to go now.” Fury was talking at the BT Sport studios in Stratford, where he watched Daniel Dubois, the heavyweight division’s rising star, blow away Dutchman Ricardo Snijders in two rounds, knocking his opponent down three times. Dubois’ next contest is a step up, against former Olympic silver medallist Joe Joyce, expected to be on Oct 24. The winner will move into the top 10 challengers in the heavyweight standings. Tyson Fury yesterday threw down the gauntlet to Anthony Joshua to defend his three world titles in December, if Fury’s trilogy rematch with Deontay Wilder falls through and the pandemic stops Joshua from facing his mandatory challenger next. The contest would be the richest fight in British boxing history, with Joshua and Fury holding all four belts in the heavyweight division. Although Fury is contracted to fight Wilder again, while Joshua has a mandatory bout against Kubrat Pulev, delays because of the
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