Andrew Triggs Hodge studied for an MSc Water Science, Policy and Management at St Catherine's in 2004. He rowed in the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race in 2005, and continued the winning streak through to Beijing by winning Gold in the Coxless Fours event. He is hoping to compete for Great Britain at London 2012.
I am fortunate to build on the success of a previous Oxford graduate in the Coxless Fours, Sir Matthew Pinsent, making it a British dominated event since 2000.
Selection to compete in rowing at London 2012 is in two parts. First the 'boat' has to earn a place for the Olympics. This means coming in the top 12 at the World Championships a year before.
However this has no bearing on which individuals qualify. This depends on the governing bodies’ selection process. For Great Britain the individual selection process starts in November, and finishes in May. However athletes can be changed right up to the Games should performance drop.
This Olympiad we have a very strong squad, and there will be strong competition for the top spots. This is great for the team, and I look forward to working hard to make sure I stay at the top of this team.
We train seven days a week, with one day off a month. Most days last between 8am and finishing at 4pm, with sessions lasting between an hour and a half and two hours. Most of our time is spent on the water. We also spend time in the gym lifting weights, and on the rowing machine.
Rowing is more than just pulling hard; technique is as important as power. Working with the crew is such a delicate balance of every aspect of the stroke. Our mental preparation has to be spot on. This is what makes the Olympics so special: it's easy to get carried away with the event, but lose the crew and you've lost!
Working with my Masters group at Oxford, and with the Boat Race squad, showed me a whole new world of working as a team, building something together, and driving towards a goal. Without the friends and support I have from Oxford, it's hard to imagine how I'd have achieved so much. This has made the journey much more enjoyable, and I hope to be able to celebrate with everyone at London 2012.
The Olympic Games means so much because of the profile it gives to a sport like rowing. The Games represent achievement at its best, and are something that the whole world can take pride in. There is great camaraderie and respect between all the athletes.
It is hard to put into words what it means to win a medal in such an event, however to have this event hosted in Great Britain makes me so proud to be British. I just hope I can step up to the plate for my event like Lord Coe and his team did!
Sport is a key part of education. With the right balance and support it will not only improve academic work, but also the whole experience of a student’s time at Oxford. It is so important that the enthusiasm of the students for sport is matched by the University as a whole: supported financially, and valued as a key part of education. If you’re lucky enough to find a sport that is motivating, that has a great team atmosphere, and will endeavour to show you something that you didn't know about yourself before, you will be a richer person for it.