Foad's Olympic conundrum

Rock steady: James Foad was named in Team GB’s rowing team for London 2012 on Wednesday

Rock steady: James Foad was named in Team GB’s rowing team for London 2012 on Wednesday

First published in London 2012 Latest News Your Local Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Sports editor

Sports fans lucky enough to get Olympic tickets for the events they wanted should spare a thought for Molesey Boat Club’s James Foad.

The 25-year-old Team GB men’s eight star was this week selected for the squad for London 2012 having secured silver medals at recent World Cup regattas in Belgrade and Lucerne.

Athletes competing at the Games were able to buy two tickets for each session in which they compete.

Foad, who is battling an on- going back problem to make the Olympic start line at Lake Dorney in August, also applied for tickets in the public ballot in a bid to get more seats for the people who have helped him most along the way.

But, instead of getting a dream ticket for the men’s eight final, he got seats at the one event he definitely would not want to see.

“It has been a real struggle to get tickets and some of my friends and family have had to fork out a lot of money just to see me compete,” he said.

“I applied for rowing and a few other sports as well and the pair I got were for the repechage final in the men’s eight rowing.

“They are tickets I’ll never use if things go according to plan and even if things don’t I wouldn’t want to go.”

Foad, who joined Molesey in 2007, will use the tickets as inspiration to get him and men’s eight crew to the final and a possible gold medal ahead of hot favourites Germany.

But he is also being driven on by the thought he may miss the boat altogether.

“At a training camp in South Africa in November I strained my back but didn’t think too much of it at the time,” he said.

“But the next thing I knew it was diagnosed as a bulging disc in my spine. I thought that was it.

“It was a good three months on rowing machines and cross trainers in the gym before I was able to get back on the water.

“It happened again in January, but I was able to get over it.

“An operation is out of the question. It is too risky. “It is a case of managing it now. There is always a chance that it will force me out. But as long as I keep doing all my core strength training, it should hold.”

Foad, who is originally from Southampton, began rowing at Itchen Imperial Rowing Club when he was 11 and took his first strokes in a boat in ocean racing under the watchful eye of his dad, himself a former rower.

Fourteen years later he is a multiple World Cup and World Championship medallist and, if he could add Olympic gold to his collection, he admitted he had come a long way.

“So many people have helped me get this far and it would be a tribute to them if I could get gold,” he added.

“To think I’m one of the smallest rowers in the squad and started in ocean racing, to be here is amazing.”

Foad was one of six Molesey’s Boat Club’s rowers to be named in the Team GB team on Wednesday.

Skipper Andrew Triggs-Hodge was confirmed in the men’s four alongside Tom James, while Moe Sbihi and Greg Searle, won won gold in Barcelona 20 years ago and will turn 40 during the Olympics, join Foad in the men’s eight.

George Nash completes the sextet in the men’s pair.

“It’s an honour to continue to be a part of such a strong team,” said Triggs-Hodge.

“Such drive and dedication from the athletes, support staff and the national lottery means this is the best team ever sent to an Olympics.

“I’m just looking forward to helping to make GB proud.”

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