Rowing is a sport in which hard work is a given; there’s no doubt that it takes extreme levels of physical strength and excellent skills to be successful. But mental toughness & a positive attitude is a big part of it too.

NZ champion rower Mahe Drysdale, has been quoted as saying “what I have learnt over the years is the people that succeed are the ones that never have an excuse, don’t let anything stop them achieving an ultimate performance. I have been thrown a number of curve balls throughout my career…to achieve an ultimate performance you need to prepare to a level beyond what you think is needed, aiming to be the best you can be in every aspect of life”.

Another young rower who has that same ‘never stop’ attitude is a friend of David Forman, Sam Jones. Sam has been selected by Rowing NZ to represent New Zealand at the World Junior Rowing Championships at Lithuania in August 2017.

We asked his Mum, Mel, to tell us about Sam and his journey to wear the silver fern on the water.

“Sam is an identical twin. I was pregnant with Sam and Jake and due for a routine scan at 18 weeks so their Dad, Matt, came along for the big reveal! When the sonographer announced we were having boys, I could see the excitement in Matt’s face. He shed a tear and announced right there and then, “My Olympic Pair!”. I laughed! Not only were we already the parents of three, I was still getting my head around raising twins! Matt was already an old hat – this was his second set! Yes, two of ‘our’ five are identical twin girls.

Many years later and after some pretty challenging years, here we are – about to send one of our boys off to the other side of the world to represent NEW ZEALAND! So proud, I could burst!

About 6 months before the boys started at High School, I suddenly realised, this was our dream and for it to become reality – no matter what we threw at it (time, energy, money) it had to have the buy-in from the boys – they had to want this. I needn’t have worried! They committed and threw themselves into rowing, and our dream has turned into their dream.

Rowing is an unusual beast of a sport. It’s tough. Really tough. You put in ‘some’ and you’ll get what you put in – not much. You put in ‘all’ and often it’s still not enough because you may be outdone and outraced by your peers, but what you will get is the knowledge that you tried your very, very, very best. Training is gruelling and during the actual rowing season, training is 10 times a week which equates to about 25-30 hours. On top of this, it’s really important that Sam and Jake do well at school and keep up with their studies. They have high hopes for their future and they know the life span of a sports person can be short – you have to have a backup plan and you have to be educated to ensure your future after the knees start giving way and the back aches settle in.

Jake trialled with Sam for the NZ Juniors and didn’t make it. Just… But what he did get was the knowledge that he tried his damnedest. He didn’t give up – even on the last day of trials when the crews looked like they were locked in, he continued to try until the clock struck finish time! Jake didn’t make the cut and I was devastated for him. But again, I needn’t have worried – he picked himself up, dusted himself off and vowed to make the squad next year!

Sam is one of the most driven 17 year olds I know. He works hard, he trains hard, he is committed, he strives for excellence and he usually gets it. He decided two years ago to get a part time job – I was gobsmacked! How will he manage, how will he cope, he hardly has time to eat!? Already he was up at 4.20am and off to training, doing a full school day where he was excelling and now a job. He took a while to balance it all out. He struggled – a lot, for a time, and he had to figure out a way to get it all aligned. He did though because he perseveres and he commits – even when he thinks it may not work in his favour, he doesn’t give up, he gives it his all.

Luck plays no part in Sam’s life. He is representing New Zealand in August because even when he is knocked back, he gets up again, he dusts himself off and he tries a little bit harder – he never stops!”

Well done, Sam. We can’t wait to hear how you go in Lithuania. With your attitude and hard work, and that of Jake, we reckon it won’t be long until your Dad gets his ‘Olympic Pair’!

Getting to Lithuania is an expensive undertaking so if you can help, Sam would be hugely grateful. You can donate here:  https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/helpsamget2trakai/donations