MATTHEW Langridge considered quitting the sport he has dedicated his life too after missing out on winning a gold medal at last summer’s Olympic Games.
That disillusion was undimmed even after an extended holiday, leaving the Northwich-born rower underwhelmed at the prospect of returning to competitive action in the run-up to the GB Rowing team trials earlier this year.
After three four-year cycles, yielding a silver medal in the men’s eight at Beijing and then bronze in the same boat at London, the 30-year-old had a difficult decision to make.
“For me London was about finishing first,” he said.
“When that didn’t happen, then the disappointment was massive. It’s not something you get over quickly.
“I’d been part of a four for the previous three seasons that had won the world championship twice. That was a project that could have ended with a gold medal.
“Instead I was moved to the eight in a new line-up, which is why last year was such a struggle.
“As an athlete, you want to control as much as you can of what you’re working towards. When that’s not there, then things become harder.”
After training alone during the winter, the former Northwich Rowing Club junior was given a choice as to his next move by head coach Jurgen Grobler.
The German made it clear that Langridge - a member at Leander Club - was still part of his plans, potentially as part of an all-star eight that includes three of the gold medal-winning four that wore Great Britain colours in London.
An alternative appealed more.
Langridge has opted instead to switch from sweep to sculling – he became the first British athlete to become world junior champion in a single in 2001 – in a new-look double with Olympic finalist Bill Lucas.
He said: “I wanted something smaller, more intimate even.
“I was feeling pretty de-motivated, so a change to something new was always going to excite me more. The big thing was to feel part of a project in which I could make decisions, that I could feel some ownership of.
“The eight is a one size fits all policy, which can be a challenge to get right.
“There’s greater flexibility when there’s just two of us, as we have something we can develop a bit more on our terms.
“I’m really happy with how things have worked out.
“Bill is one of the best crew boat athletes in the squad, so to have the chance to work with him is great for me.
“It’s still early days, of course, but training is going well.
“We’ve been top of the time sheets among the men’s squad, which is a decent early indication.
“We have to be realistic though, as a lot of the crews we’ll be competing against at the World Cup [this weekend] are experienced and have been together for a number of years.”
Langridge is reunited too with coach Mark Bates, with whom he worked as a junior and later as part of the world championship-winning four in 2009.