By Ben Mason | Posted: Tuesday August 20, 2019
My name is Ben Mason, and over four months ago I was selected into the Junior Mens Quadruple Sculls to compete in Tokyo at the 2019 Junior World Champs.
After spending two months living with the rest of my team in Cambridge, training twice a day and reaching close to 200km a week on water, we were eager to head overseas.
First we travelled to Osaka. We were the test dummies to see if this was a good place for the Olympians to come next year to acclimatize before racing. We spent two weeks training and racing some Japanese Universities. We also went on a couple of cultural trips which really showed me the difference in religion and beliefs around the world. At one temple, they meditate for up to seventeen hours every day until they find Buddha (god). Every November they meditate for 8 days non-stop.
By the time we hopped on the bullet train to Tokyo, I realised how much you could miss a good NZ burg and even a cold breeze. The hottest day we had in Osaka was 36 degrees which felt like 46 degrees. Once we got to the venue, I started to realise the professionalism of this event. We unloaded our brand New Filipi boat which was sent for us, and tried not to be intimidated by the so called Under 19 year olds walking around like giants. From this point in we trained on the race course and spent endless hours in our hotel rooms.
Then it was race day! We placed first in our heat and was ranked second in the world behind Germany. Two days later we had the semi final. We placed second 1.3 seconds behind Germany, the fastest crew. We achieved our goal of making the A final and were well and truly in the hunt for podium. I remember so clearly sitting in the blocks and listening to the commentator naming all the countries before they set us off. I had never felt so weak in my life, my legs were literally shaking in anticipation. We placed sixth place. I had no idea how intense a final on the world stage would be. Still absolutely thrilled with how we went. I gained so much from that race and hope to have the opportunity to be there again, this time knowing what I’m in for!