The next year is a pivotal one for Alan Sinclair.
The Inverness rower, an Olympic finalist in 2016, has his sights on a second consecutive Games and finally becoming a world champion.
Sinclair has silver and bronze medals from previous World Championships but the gold has eluded him so far. Success in Linz next August will go a long way to securing his place in British Rowing’s squad for Tokyo 2020 and a chance to win an Olympic medal.
Alongside Stewart Innes two years ago, Sinclair was edged out in the final of the men’s pair on the Lagoa de Freitas as the Italians surged through to claim bronze. Throughout 2016 Sinclair battled an ongoing shoulder problem and underwent surgery in January 2017 before making his comeback later in the year.
A recent altitude training camp in Sierra Nevada, Spain, provided Sinclair with some clarity on his goals for the year to come.
He said: “It only dawned on me in Sierra Nevada that this might be my last chance to become world champion, assuming I stop after Tokyo. It’s not something I’d thought about too much before but as there’s not really a World Championship in an Olympic year, this may be my last chance.
“The next stage after that is the Olympics and worrying about getting a medal.”
Sinclair, who hails from Munlochy on the Black Isle, has spent the last year as part of the men’s eight, with head coach Jurgen Groebler expected to maintain that as the squad’s lead boat due to the difficulty of qualifying it for the Games, with only a small number of qualification spots open.
He added: “I want to be in the top boat again, whatever that is. I really enjoyed aspects of the eight but there were parts of it I didn’t enjoy as much as I thought I would. I feel I work better as an athlete in smaller groups and that environment. But I want the best chance of winning a gold medal and I feel if I keep doing what I’m doing, I can do that.”
During this year’s competition, the GB men’s eight took bronze in the final of the World Championships in Plovdiv and a silver in the World Cup regatta in Belgrade. However, the 33-year-old has not been happy with his own performance levels and hopes the recent training camp in Spain precipitates a return to form.
Sinclair said: “The training camp went well and I’m feeling more like myself. We went to Tokyo for a recce and an Olympic orientation cap, which was nice to see the venue but I struggled badly with jet lag while I was there. I had massive cold and flu symptoms and had to take a day off training.
“The telemetry on the boat, that lets you see your power output, was showing my watts were lower than anyone else’s. It reassured me that my fitness wasn’t there. But I’m hoping to carry a bit of momentum through into January, when we’ve got a training camp in Namibia.
“I have established the building blocks (of fitness) but fitness is a bit of an ambiguous term in rowing. Winter fitness is a lot steadier, low-intensity stuff. It’s almost like a pyramid; with a wide, stronger base, you can make it stronger. The foundations are in the right place so I can keep making steps when the intensity goes up.”