- 29 Aug 08, 05:49 AM
Andy Hodge has a neat way of summing his next mission up. "It's all about building on this," he says pointing to his pocket. In it is his first Olympic gold medal.
Hodge isn't just talking about a plan to aim to repeat the feats of the Great Britain coxless four in London in four years' time. He's also alluding to the plans the wider rowing world has in place to build on the success of Beijing. But more of that later.
Many of the rest of the 23 British rowers who came back from Beijing with medals have got some thinking to do over the next few months. Do they want to go through another punishing four years to compete in front of a home crowd in 2012?
Hodge's crew-mate Steve Williams is clearly already sick of answering the question, saying: "For me now is the time to put the feet up, recharge the batteries and enjoy the moment. The answer will come to me."
Williams was the only rower to fly home from Beijing business class as a double Olympic gold-medallist, he is 32 and admits he considered retiring four years ago so the fact his decision is still up in the air is a bit of a shock.
Asked if he has achieved everything he wants to, he replies: "That will be the question that makes up my mind and I'm not really thinking about it at the moment."
Katherine Grainger clearly hasn't achieved what she wanted to. When the request comes for photographs of the GB medallists at their post-Games media day, she smiles ruefully at a crew-mate.
The mission of the women's quadruple scull was to win Great Britain's first women's rowing gold. Their tears and exhaustion on the podium as they accepted silver told the whole story.
"There's still disappointment and that won't go away. There's always a bit of a what-if about it," she tells me.
With two silvers already to her name, there was an assumption that Grainger's third Olympics would be her last but she explains: "You need perspective and distance. Everyone wants to go to the Olympics and if you could do 10 more you would because it's so special just to be there.
"But for what it would take for 2012, it's about what I would feel like on a wet, wintry morning in December.
"If the passion and desire is still there then of course it's possible but a rather large and enjoyable holiday must come first.
"You need the physical break but you need the mental and emotional break more than anything else and then you can see more clearly which way to go."
My barely-informed hunch - after a three-minute chat with Kath - is that she will be back for more (although she is clearly a good way from making her mind up) while Williams will decide to spend more time building a career as a motivational speaker.
Also from the quad, Debbie Flood will become a fully qualified prison officerr in the next few months while Frances Houghton - a former crew-mate of Rebecca Romero - plans to do some cycling, "but only between vineyards".
"We've had weeks of being told what to do, when to eat, when to go to bed. Now we can do what we want," he says.
Men's head coach Jurgen Grobler expects the squad to give him some sort of idea about what they want to do by mid-October, still more than six months before the first international event of the 2009 season.
Meanwhile, GB Rowing performance director David Tanner - a man so meticulous he visited Shunyi six times before the Games to make sure everything was in place - is already thinking about the new faces the squad will need for 2012.
"We need to accept some retirements. I think the biggest challenge is to blood some new rowers," he tells me.
"By 2010 we need to have the 2012 team. There will be some new faces and that's the biggest challenge.
"There will be some changes - I hope there will be changes. Nobody had heard of Tom Lucy in the men's eight until a year ago. Zac Purchase was a junior in 2004."
Purchase - gold medallist in the lightweight double scull in Beijing - is likely to be one of the faces of 2012 and he has high hopes of British success in the rowing regatta.
But the effects of his success are already being felt at grass-roots level. The club where he learned to row, in Upton-on-Severn, Worcestershire, is reporting that all of their summer sculling courses are full.
Hodge, meanwhile, will spend next season as captain of Molesey Boat Club in Surrey, a club that also provided his crew-mate Tom James and Acer Nethercott, cox of the eight, to the GB squad.
Two of the programmes he is particularly keen on getting more involved in are the Sporting Giants initiative and World Class Start - both designed to identify potential Olympians based on their size and to fast-track them into the national squad.
Rowing clubs around the country will be braced for an influx of wannabe Hodges and potential Purchases but while those novices take to the water for the first time, the current crop of stars will be taking a well-earned break.
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