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Durham University News

Lily van den Broecke Biography

Lily van den Broecke (copyright Intersport Images)

My name is Lily van den Broecke and I’m a student at Durham University, originally from Oxford. I’m studying for a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics and am currently in my first year at University College.

Alongside my studies, I am part of the Paralympic Rowing Squad – a vibrant, exciting and competitive team. My place in the squad is as a cox for the LTAMix4+ (LTAMix4+ stands for Legs, Trunk and Arms mixed coxed four). This means that at any one time, there are four athletes in the boat and one cox, which is me.

It is the role of the cox to get 100% out of the crew and out of each athlete as an individual.

There are a number of ways we do this.  We listen carefully to the coach, trust what they say and reinforce it throughout a training session.  We have to also be confident in independent decisions because a coach can’t be with you all the time.

Our role is to push the crew which requires good technical knowledge. Like a tennis swing, hockey push or rugby kick, they all require good technique, as does the rowing stroke.

We also find that we say the same things in as many different ways as possible! People respond differently to different commands and it’s important a cox connects with their crew by understanding who responds to what. Besides, saying the same thing over and over gets very boring and might not get a response at all!

We also have to motivate the crew, and the way we do this can be different for each rower.  Whereas encouragement and positive reinforcement might be good for one athlete, another might demand more challenging and aggressive calls which cause a response to push harder, to prove their worth.

The other part of the job is to steer correctly using the rudder. This is made harder by the fact people apply different power through the one blade (oar) they have, causing the boat to swing to one side.  The list goes on!

I really enjoy coxing. The people, the art of the sport and competition make the early mornings and cold weather totally worth it. I hope the Paralympic Rowing Squad can win Team GB a medal at the 2012 Paralympics.