Olympic champion George Nash gets ready for a life outside rowing
PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 January 2017
Former Cambridge University rower on his retirement
Bowing out on a high seems like the perfect way for any sportsman to bring down the curtain on a glittering career.
With an Olympic gold medal in Rio pocketed to add to an earlier bronze, you cannot get a bigger accolade.
So when George Nash made the decision to retire after Brazil this year, he did so at the top of his game.
It was perhaps a little surprise as at 27 the former Cambridge University Boat Club president appeared to have many years – or at least another Olympiad – to get under his belt.
But the St Catharine’s College graduate has always been single-minded, and so he knew that the time was right to do something else.
“I guess I was quite goal orientated really,” said Nash, who won bronze in the pairs at the London Olympics during a gap year from university.
“I had Olympic tunnel vision if you like. I was pretty much 100 per cent motivated to win Olympic gold and I did and I thought ‘nice, it’s time to move on’.
“Obviously, it was a huge part of my life and transitioning is not as easy as clicking your fingers but I just thought I’m going to make the decision on my own terms and go for it, and try to make a success of something else.”
Nash, who studied engineering at Cambridge, has taken up a role with Kineterol Ltd as a research and development engineer.
He is only a few months into the new role, but it is a case of transitioning from being a full-time athlete – with an existence on the water that required very early starts – to a life in the mainstream.
“I’m just getting into it really and getting used to concentrating all day and using my brain and being comfortable doing that as I haven’t been doing that since 2013 when I was at Cambridge,” said Nash.
“And then even when I was at Cambridge, yes I had to do work but I also had both eyes on what was going on here on the river so it still split.
“When I see the guys I empathise with what they’re going through but there isn’t yet a part of me that thinks I want to be back out there crushing my body this winter.
“I feel like I did that for the cause of achieving my Olympic ambition, not because I was wed to the process.
“There is sport and there is high-performance sport. Doing sport for enjoyment and high-performance sport there are loads of overlaps, but with high-performance sport you really are investigating the limits of what you’re body can do.
“That process is just physically really taxing, and to do it well you need to have that unrelenting fire driving you. If you don’t have that, it’s really difficult.”
While Nash is moving on with his career, he does occasionally cast his mind back to this summer in Brazil when he won gold with Moe Sbihi, Alex Gregory and Constantine Louloudis in the men’s coxless four, and his time on the national squad.
“I don’t do it very often, but occasionally you see clips on TV of other Olympic sports and achievements and feel quite removed from it,” said Nash.
“But then when I see that kind of stuff, I think ‘I was a part of that for a long time’ and that is fantastic and it is an incredible human event.
“It’s an amazing, amazing thing to have been a part of.
“Every time I go to a sporting reunion or occasion I’m reminded by how positive the Olympic movement is for athletes.”
And Nash is also excited about the future for CUBC, after the move to their new boathouse in Ely.
“It’s a brilliant building. I think it is going to give them an edge for sure,” said Nash.
“Training effectively requires very hard work on the water but then great rest and recovery, and I think this place will give them a great space just to wind down better than what they were doing before. And that’s where you get performance gains.
“I’m really excited to watch their progress. I came in and thought ‘I wish I had this’. It’s fantastic.”