The Leander captain Nick Middleton, 29, has decided to resign his position and step back from the sport in which he has achieved so much success over the last ten years.
Middleton, who was appointed to the captaincy a year ago, cites a variety of reasons for his decision.
But motivation was a key factor after the he missed the cut at the GB Training Lake in Caversham and the selectors sent him home to train.
“I’ve been in and out of the GB squad three times and every time I’ve had to claw my way back. Ultimately I don’t really enjoy it as much as I used to, I’m comfortable with that feeling and it’s time to move on” he explained.
Middleton had been a national-standard swimmer until 2008 when an injury side-lined him. His physio suggested the transition to rowing, so he applied to Leander.
His arrival proved the start of an enormously successful rowing career, which has seen him win Henley six times, represent GB at the U23 World Championships, and race for his country at a clutch of World Cup Regattas.
An accomplished photographer, he is now looking forward bring his skills to other projects, for which he now has time to spare after spending six days a week on sport since the age of 12.
His decision has surprised his friends and family, but all have been supportive, including his coaches.
“They’ve understood my decision and wished me luck, but ultimately people just want you to be happy and successful” he said.
He also paid tribute to the support of GB Rowing, who continued his funding throughout the period..
“They’ve had the opportunity to cut the funding when I’ve been asked to train back at Leander but they kept it on, You can’t really ask for more than that” he added.
“I joined the sport not really knowing what Henley was in the first place and my goal was always to represent my country, but Henley is almost as good as racing internationally”.
His first Henley win was in the Leander quad that won the Prince of Wales in 2010, but his favourite performance was in the GB double scull with Jack Beaumont in the 2016 season.
But Olympic selection saw Beaumont was picked as the sculling spare, to be flown to Rio on the eve of the regatta to take the place of the injured Graeme Thomas, while Middleton was left on the bank.
“They could have chosen me over Jack but you can’t look at it like that because life and sport aren’t always fair, and if you keep mulling over decision that you can’t affect then you’ll always feel some negativity. I don’t feel any sense of failure – it’s all about the journey” he said.
“Nick is a tremendously personable athlete, and a shining example of the sort of attitude that we try to foster among our entire squad, Even though he is stepping down from the captaincy, Leander runs in his veins I know he will continue to be an asset to Leander for many years to come” said the Leander president Jeremy ‘Rass’ Randall.
Chief coach Mark Banks was full of praise for the former captain.
“Nick started rowing from scratch, and yet went on to such a great level of success. To win Henley at his first attempt and then go on to five further wins is an incredible achievement, and as the Leander captain he has provided leadership of the highest quality and helped to motivate our new athletes as they set out on the same road that he travelled all those years ago” he said.