Like many other top-tier sportsmen, Ransley uses music to get the blood pumping before a race, and while describing his musical taste as broad, he cites R&B mainstay Charles Bradley and veteran art-rocker Patti Smith as artists he reaches for regularly. “As well as for psyching up, you can also use music to chill out,” the rower says. “Between competition venues we are often taking bus journeys, so that helps to pass the time, and in staying calm before a race or to come down after a race.”

 

For British rower Tom Ransley, years of relentless training, personal sacrifice and total commitment paid off at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, when he added Olympic gold in the men’s coxed eight to his two World Championships and one European crown. Looking back today, the athlete recalls the intensity of emotion he felt on the starting line of his big race, which he has described as a “strange and potent combination of fear, rage and readiness that circulated throughout my body before the start buzzer”.

 

It’s a feeling that the 31-year-old – who was born in the English county of Kent, just miles from where KEF was founded in 1961 – will never forget. “It’s just a buzz, a real adrenaline rush,” Ransley says, adding, “In that moment you have a lot of feelings running through your body, and that’s quite fun but also it’s an absolute horrible feeling.” With 15 years at the oar behind him, including eight in the elite British men’s team, this was his big moment, and he felt mixed emotions. “It’s fight or flight, and it’s the fight side coming out,” he says. “You try and get yourself in a state that’s a bit…primal.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standing 1.96 metres tall, Ransley originally aimed to be a basketball player, playing at county level in the UK. He also dabbled in boxing while studying history of art at the University of York (he went on to complete a postgraduates course in history and management studies at the prestigious University of Cambridge). Ransley, however, plumped for rowing, joining York City Rowing Club and revelling in the sheer intensity of the training. “It’s a really tough sport,” the Olympian explains, “but that’s part of its appeal: trying to find the fun and the pleasure in really pushing yourself, and getting out of bed when you are totally exhausted - the last thing you want to do is go and train.”

 

Asked what makes an exceptional rower, the gentle-giant argues that while passion and discipline, brains and brawn are essential, each athlete is unique, and training is geared towards individual talents. “Everyone has their own personality,” he says. “Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses…the really enjoyable thing about sport is trying to bring out the best in us, making us better than the sum of our parts.”

 

When pushed, Ransley highlights a trio of core requirements for crew-rowing excellence, which might be dubbed ‘the Three Ts’ of Toughness, Technique and Teamwork. “You have to be really tough,” he says, “because it is painful – not just physically painful but mentally taxing – so everyone in the boat is a tough individual, and they can push themselves.”

 

Then comes good technique, perfected through repetition. “To take a stroke, you are going to go through the same thing millions of times over the lifetime of a rower, and you are constantly trying to perfect that,” Ransley says. “There’s probably a madness in that, so maybe you need to be a little bit obsessive over technique. Technique and toughness are the two things that underpin rowing, and teamwork.”

 

Like many other top-tier sportsmen, Ransley uses music to get the blood pumping before a race, and while describing his musical taste as broad, he cites R&B mainstay Charles Bradley and veteran art-rocker Patti Smith as artists he reaches for regularly. “As well as for psyching up, you can also use [music] to chill out,” the rower says. “Between competition venues we are often taking bus journeys, so that helps to pass the time, and in staying calm before a race or to come down after a race.”

Ransley calls his KEF MUO wireless speaker a “companion piece” of kit that he uses every day. “It can come with me on training camps as well,” he says. “As a team, we are constantly going from our national team centre in Caversham in the UK, and dotting around different European training camps. It just sticks in the bag real easy, and doesn't take up a lot of space and still has good performance.”

Ransley adds that the mixed emotions he felt at the start line continued once Olympic gold had been won. “On crossing the finish line … I guess I was empty, completely drained, no energy, maybe overwhelmed, I’m not sure,” he remembers. “I could see my crew just explode into celebrations. People were smashing their oars up and down, Scott [Durant] behind me was standing up, [Andrew Triggs] Hodge cheering into the camera, and I just sat there. In my head, it was like an out-of-body experience.”

 

Once reality had kicked in, however, Ransley and his teammates embraced Rio, one of the world’s most colourful and vibrant destinations, for “10 straight days of partying” before returning to the UK and back to intense training. “The celebrations were pretty epic,” he recalls fondly. “It’s an incredible city to party in.”

 

 

Ransley calls his KEF MUO wireless speaker a “companion piece” of kit that he uses every day. “It can come with me on training camps as well,” he says. “As a team, we are constantly going from our national team centre in Caversham in the UK, and dotting around different European training camps. It just sticks in the bag real easy, and doesn't take up a lot of space and still has good performance.”

Ransley adds that the mixed emotions he felt at the start line continued once Olympic gold had been won. “On crossing the finish line … I guess I was empty, completely drained, no energy, maybe overwhelmed, I’m not sure,” he remembers. “I could see my crew just explode into celebrations. People were smashing their oars up and down, Scott [Durant] behind me was standing up, [Andrew Triggs] Hodge cheering into the camera, and I just sat there. In my head, it was like an out-of-body experience.”

 

Once reality had kicked in, however, Ransley and his teammates embraced Rio, one of the world’s most colourful and vibrant destinations, for “10 straight days of partying” before returning to the UK and back to intense training. “The celebrations were pretty epic,” he recalls fondly. “It’s an incredible city to party in.”

 

 

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