A TEESSIDE graduate has moved down South to train with the Team GB rowing squad after leaving university in May.
Josephine Wratten now trains with the team after a lot of success with the Under-23 team.
Jo says she learns a lot from training with the senior squad.
Jo said: “It’s a great chance to see how the Olympians train.”
“It’s a very demanding sport mentally and physically and you get a chance to see how they cope with it.
“You see how they train and how they handle some of the toughest times in the winter.”
Jo was born in Teesside and has been rowing since 2007.
Jo was selected from Egglescliffe school for a scheme called World Class Start – a scheme that GB Rowing set up to look at the physical credentials of aspiring rowers.
She began rowing with the Tees Rowing Club and began trailing as a junior for Team GB in 2009.
She began studying English Studies at Teesside University in 2012.
While at the University, she took part in a number of competitions as well as the European University championship in Ponzan, Poland – where she won a bronze medal.
Jo found it easier to juggle her studies and her training with help from the university.
Jo said: “It’s very hard to try and be a full-time athlete and a full-time student.”
“I had a lot of support from the university with the Elite Athlete scheme and with funding for the likes of the trip to Poland.
“I pretty much wouldn’t have been able to go and get a bronze if it wasn’t for the uni.”
She eventually trailed as a under-23 in 2012 and was selected to take part in the Under-23s World Rowing championship in Lithuania.
She earned a place in the following competitions as well and she was part of the team won a silver medal in 2013, second only the USA.
Jo was thrilled to be able to follow-up the first competition with a silver medal in 2013.
Jo said: “When I was involved in the 2012 event, it was quite a surreal and crazy experience because I never did anything like that before.”
“I guess it was good I had that experience to go up against the big countries like the United States and Germany that are well-known for rowing.
“So when I got involved in 2013, I was more prepared and I knew I had a job to do so to get a silver medal it was a great accomplishment.”
Jo trains six times a week and about 2 to 3 sessions a day in order to hone her rowing abilities.
However, competition can sometimes come down to how well an athlete gets herself ready just before taking to the field, court or in Jo’s case, the water.
Jo described how she likes to get herself ready just before a huge race.
Jo said: “I like to have music in while I get in the zone in a noisy environment.
“I like to take myself aware from the competition and not really think about it, because if you think about it too much you can get wound up.
“I usually want to be as relaxed so as soon as I’m in the boat, then it’s game-on.”
Now that she’s training with the main team, she’s hoping to be able to row alongside them in future major competitions.
Jo said: “This year, I’d like to step my training up through-out the winter.
“I would like to break into the squad and get into the boat for some of the big competition.
“I’d like to try and maybe get into a World Cup this year and make that step from under-23s to the seniors.”
However, there’s always one dream that’s many athletes hope to one day accomplish.
And Jo is hoping to take her talents to one of the greatest sporting spectacles in the world – the Olympics.
“The dream of the 2016 Olympics is obviously there and also to aim for Tokyo in 2020,” She said.
“That’s the ultimate dream for me.”