Phelan Hill might have three world titles to his name, but the Bedford-born cox insists he is taking nothing for granted as he bids to ensure he isn’t unseated for Rio 2016.
Hill was the cox in the Great Britain’s men’s eight at the London Olympics, helping the boat secure a bronze medal.
And since then Hill and the crew have gone from strength to strength, winning World Championship gold in each of the last three years, as well as a European bronze and silver in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
All that suggests the 36-year-old will once again be called upon for the Games in Brazil this summer as the men’s eight look to rubberstamp their dominance on the biggest stage of all.
But with the Olympic trials taking place at the national training centre in Caversham from March 21-23, Hill is not about to get carried away.
“It’s a battle over the whole Olympic cycle, there’s only one position for the cox and only one person that can be there,” said Hill. “There’s always people snapping at your heels but I always look at that as a good thing. Competition always drives improvements, you always want to get better and it can never be a bad thing.
“It’s funny, a lot of people say you’re in pole position, the job’s already done because you’ve won the World Championships the last three years.
“Personally, I have the attitude that I never feel selected in the boat until the coaches physically can’t take me out.
“It’s normally the start line of the race and I’m sitting there with two minutes to go thinking they can’t take me out now. That’s the only time when I think I’m selected.”
“I have to do some basics which is making sure my bodyweight is on schedule and we have to do a weigh in, but certainly for me the final trials period is there as a support role, supporting the athletes, helping them out, making sure their preparations is the best it can possibly be and they can deliver on the day to the best of their ability.”
Heading into London 2012, Hill had coxed the men’s eight to silver at the 2010 and 2011 World Championships, only to go backwards at the Olympics.
And Hill admits the desire to prove himself on the biggest stage has been driving him forward ever since.
“If I’m honest when I started on this journey three-and-a-half years ago it was all about getting to Rio and doing better than I did last time,” he added.
“For me London was a great experience but it was my first experience of the Olympics, and I felt I’d grown really well through that cycle and I never felt I reached my potential.
“That’s been something I’ve really wanted to do this Olympic cycle, is to always improve.
“Now I feel I’m at my peak. I’m getting towards as good as I can possibly be and so getting to the Olympics is my opportunity to really test myself and see how good I am. Hopefully I’ll realise that dream that everyone has.”
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