Large Boys Rowing

A title to conjure with. Spent yesterday in Gateshead International Stadium, with large viking like son, who was doing a trial for the Sporting Giants project - they are aiming to find likely medallists for the 2012 Olympics, in sports such as rowing. Son filled in online form earlier in the year - the only absolute criterion was height, seemingly you have to be really tall to be a good rower, with no experience necessary - and then forgot all about it. To his amazement, he was invited to a three hour trial at the Gateshead stadium. That was yesterday and involved a three and a half hour drive along the side of Hadrian's Wall, and back again in the evening. We had a little interlude in lovely Corbridge while we bagged what my family like to call 'mum's piles of old stones' - in this case the remains of a Roman Town (and a truly enormous pile of old stones) just outside the new(er) town.
Then it was on to Gateshead. The boys, and the occasional girl, though there didn't seem to be many female applicants, had been invited in groups of about thirty, starting each hour through the day. There are trials in various places throughout the UK. It was a little like an X Factor audition though without the wailing. Large Viking Like Son was very pleased that he compared favourably with his group, since it turned out that so many of them were career sportsmen, doing degrees in Sports Science, or excelling in other sports. Suspect that of those who got through the initial selection process, a further few must have dropped out, alarmed at the idea of a 'trial'.
Charles has done Karate very seriously for years, plays squash, runs a bit, used to play ice hockey but - although he considers himself 'sporty',which is quite rare in a mathematician - never really thought of making a career out of it. He doesn't expect to be one of the tiny number eventually selected for 'Boot Camp' but will seriously look at the possibility of joining a local rowing club, since he enjoyed himself so much.
What struck me, though, sitting on the sidelines as a mum, was what a nice bunch of (toweringly tall) boys they were. And I kind of wished that the doom laden tabloids would for once come along and see all these lads who had made the effort to spend several hours exerting themselves in a worthwhile cause. But it wouldn't make very good copy, would it? Large boys rowing? Hmmm. Depends on who you think your readers are!
A final thought - Gateshead is lucky to have such a wonderful stadium. Speaking as one who has spent hours and hours freezing her backside off, while son did ice hockey training when he was younger - small ice pads tend to be murderously cold, even for the spectators - it made a nice change to sit in such pleasant surroundings.