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Tom Aggar; Life after London 2012 Paralympics

Friday, 2nd November 2012

Author: Francesca Salzano

Tom Aggar might have lost his undefeated title in Single Scull in London 2012 but insists that he still has more to give and will work to close that small gap to being back on top.

Since Aggar made his international debut in the rowing world in 2007 he has had a staggering career that could lay claim to that of Redgrave or Pincent. The 28 year old prior to London 2012 was undefeated in the Menís Single Scull, dominating the sport with four world titles and gold in Beijing.
Aggarsí sporting career took off whilst he was at studying at Warwick University when he was playing for the first rugby team with promise of greater future success. Aggar however suffered a serious spinal injury in 2005 after a night out. It was then that rowing gained a sporting giant. Aggar took up the sport as part of his rehabilitation and to keep fit. Since then his career has gone from strength to strength and at the London Paralympics he seemed more than a likely winner.
Aggar however placed 4th in his race, claiming his first lost in any international event. Since then there has been speculation over whether this rowing machine will continue within the sport.

"Reflecting on the racing and games, the decision I wanted to make was whether I still enjoyed the commitment to the training, which has formed such a massive part of my life for the past 5 years. It goes without saying I was bitterly disappointed with my result, however I feel I have still got more to give and achieve in the sport and now I just need to work out going forward what I can change to make that small step to being back on top again"

Aggarís disappointment has been the catalyst for questions about his rowing career, however when asked about the London games there is no doubt that he enjoyed every minute. Despite this being the second games that he has competed in, (Aggar won gold at Beijing) it is clear which one he preferred

"I think it was easier to get more of a feel with this games being on home soil and the support for the London Paralympics really blew me away."

The Paralympics for the first time saw many sell out events which was something that really touched the athlete, "I think it was quite moving how the British public got behind all the paralympians and the support over at Dorney Lake was incredible"

London 2012 will no doubt leave a significant imprint on Aggars career and has unequivocally moved him into his next chapter of rowing. Post Olympic holiday and reflective thoughts turn to the next few months coming up.
"Up until Christmas Iím looking forward to being back in the training environment with a little less pressure now, and just enjoying it for what it is, a good opportunity to train with some inspirational people in a competitive environment with great support!"

Being at the top of your sport and maintaining that position for as long Aggar has is no mean feat and one that he recognises. Holding on to an undefeated title required constant application of hard work, new goals and a level head. In the past Aggar has been quoted saying that he trains as if he is the second best in the world.
"The saying that you are only as good as your last race is so true in rowing, and ultimately is how you are judged when you compete. With the results I have had over the years, I have never let myself get too complacent as if you are not at the top of your game then there is always someone, either in the squad or competing internationally who will be there to take your place. I have always kept setting myself new goals in all aspects of the training, both on land and water."

Aggar comments that prior to the 2012 games he didnít find it hard to keep himself motivated as the end goal was a greater one. However, when talking about motivation and how to get your head in the game on those days when you donít feel like training, Aggar believes the key is the people who surround you.
"I think as long as your training with a good group of people and have a good coach it can create a positive environment to train in and make it that bit easier when you have a lapse in motivation."

Aggarís he has acquired himself quite a reputation within the gym amongst other Olympians. "Ive always been fairly strong in the gym, and itís part of the training that I really enjoy. Itís funny a lot of people are interested in the big bench press but I donít know how much it helps you move a boat, but like I say itís always been one of my strengths. I started doing some weight training in my 1st year at Warwick, and then properly in my 2nd just off my own back, reading and learning technique and the training science as I went. I got to a point where my press was out-doing my pull so havenít been trying to move it on that much in the past year or two. I would love to be able to push twice my bodyweight at some point, but itís crazy to think that wouldnít even get me near to a medal competing in the weightlifting at a games! I think as long as you are patient, keep working and living well then you will start to see results."

Tom Aggar attended Warwick University in 2001 studying Biomedical science. In true Warwick style he reflects fondly upon his memories of being an undergraduate
"I ended up spending the best part of four years there, and had a great time and so many memories!"
Life as a fresher on Warwick campus is something that brings about great nostalgia for Aggar.
"I loved Warwick as a fresher, it was a great time in my life. I always felt like I never had enough time to do everything I wanted to as there was so much going on at Warwick!"

Warwick is where Aggars sporting career really started to develop. Aggar was a strong rugby player, playing in the Saracens rugby squad and Warwick Rugby first XV. Although sport has been a defining constant in his life, he is in agreement that getting involved within a club at Warwick University should be done by all.
"Without a shadow of a doubt, I would recommend to everyone to take up a sport at Uni, there are so many clubs and facilities at Warwick to suit everyone so there are no excuses"

When asked whether he remembers much about the Rowing Club while at Warwick he remarks that he regrets not being introduced to the sport earlier in his life
"I do remember the club when I was there, a friend of mine who was two doors down in my halls was a keen member from quite early on, and I have always been aware of the club. One of my biggest regrets is not being introduced to the sport properly growing up as itís such a great sport for fitness, coordination and discipline with the training."

Having a supportive circle around you is imperative to helping you succeed and something that Aggar agrees with. His wife who herself used to be a rower has been heavily involved within his career from the offset.
"She has been immensely supportive of me and my aspirations and training commitments. Itís great to have that backing and I may not have had such success in the past without her support."

There is no doubt that what he has managed to achieve is truly inspirational and he has become a role model for many. When asked who inspire him it clear that many member of the GB squad have had an impact on him,
" I would say Iím inspired by so many of the team I train and compete alongside, both Olympic and Paralympic. There are so many great athletes in the team but I guess I would say Alan Campbell, who won the bronze in the Menís Single, heís a great guy and an animal on the machine!"

Throughout the interview Aggar is confident, inspiring and focused on his end goal; getting back to the top of his career. Aggar describes himself as ĎDetermined, loyal and tenaciousí and quite rightly it is this determination along with his tenacious attitude that has indisputably manifested Aggar into the great sports man he has become and a fantastic role model for any sports man or woman at Warwick to follow.