Henry Fieldman shows the key in talking and executing a good game for Great Britain
Cambridge University coxing consultant bidding to steer national eight to success
The saying ‘practice what you preach’ could not be more true for Henry Fieldman.
The 29-year-old earned a Blue as the cox of the Cambridge University Boat Club crew in 2013, and since 2015 he has been coxing consultant to the club.
At the same time, Fieldman has been progressing through the Great Britain system.
Having steered the coxed pair to world championship titles in 2015 and 2016, he made the step up to be cox of the flagship men’s eight boat last season.
“I have had a link to Cambridge almost pretty much since I left in 2013, so any excuse to get back is always welcome,” said Fieldman, who has also started coaching the CUWBC coxes as well.
“I was involved in supporting her [Sophie Shapter] on the coxing side and the coaches are really good as well; they contribute a lot to the coxes’ coaching.
“We would listen to her recordings and talk through things.
“It was pretty fun to work with her, she was a very good cox and it was a great result as well.
“It was awesome [results across the board], I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Fieldman’s return to Cambridge came about through his close association with then chief coach Steve Trapmore, who is now high performance coach with GB.
They worked together when Fieldman was doing his undergraduate degree at Imperial College, where Trapmore was head coach at the time.
“We knew each other really well and I always feel that as a coach he went above and beyond anything I would expect to coach the guys in the team, and me as a cox, but also looked after your development as a person,” said Fieldman.
“If ever there was an opportunity to give back to the programme or help Steve in any way, I was really keen to do that.
“Now he is coaching us in the national team and everything is falling into place now, we’re really lucky.”
Fieldman returned to the city a few weeks ago at Cambridge 99 to lead a coaching consultancy for local coxes, and he hopes it is something he can do more of in the future.
“It was awesome to be back on that little stretch, and I’d never been in the club before and it was an amazing view,” he said.
“I gave a 45-minute talk about coxing and trying to highlight my major lessons from the sport.
“I have only just started getting into public speaking a little bit. It was actually really, really fun.
“Most of my coxing coaching is listening to recordings, analysing them and then giving feedback but it’s quite fun to just talk to a group.”
This season will mark Fieldman’s second in the eight, following the retirement of Phelan Hill, who steered the crew to a gold medal at the Rio Olympics.
The boat has undergone a big makeover though, and last year they finished seventh at the world championships, failing to make the A final.
Fieldman feels that valuable lessons were learned though, and many which they will take into this campaign – which marks the halfway point of the Tokyo Olympiad.
“So many of the successful Olympic boat in 2016 moved on to other things so it was a real rebuilding year and we took a lot of new people into the team and there was a lot of learning,” he said.
“Our results were not what we wanted, in the eight we came seventh in the world championships. This year we want to be competing not just to be in the A final or win a medal but to win the world championships.
“I think we have the squad to do that. Last year was a really, really good year for building and I think hopefully this year we should see some really positive results.
“We’ve had a really good build-up to the racing season, and I think we’re already faster and more efficient than we were at the end of last year which is really great.
“People always say that if you have results that you didn’t want, it’s a really great learning experience.
“Having gone through that and now we’re gearing up for our first race this season, I really feel like the lessons we learned are very much in our minds.
“They are very much being adhered to, which is really positive.”
He added: “Now we are very much focused on this season trying to get the best results at the world cups, and Europeans and then hopefully have a really good world championships and then take the momentum into the qualification year.”
Joining Fieldman in the eight in Serbia are oarsmen James Rudkin, Josh Bugajski, Tom Jeffery, Oliver Wynne-Griffith, Moe Sbihi, Alan Sinclair, Matthew Tarrant and Will Satch.