Jamie Cook was born in Windsor and is currently a student at the University of Oxford. As we speak, he’s finishing off research and working on new types of helmet structures – all bespoke 3D printed. Otherwise you can find Jamie doing tough training; the rower is a former U23 GB crewmember is about to embark on a 990km rowing adventure down the Kafue River in Zambia.
JACK WILLS: The helmets you’re creating, what are they for?
JAMIE COOK: For cycling but the structure can also be used for motorcycling, horse riding, alpine, rock climbing. We’ve uncovered the relation between curvature and energy absorption.
JW: What was your major point of studies?
JC: I studied solid mechanics. The relationship between materials and structures and understanding their mechanical properties. When you look at a material or a structure it’s a hierarchy of different link scales. If you take a honeycomb structure you can zoom into the bees’ honeycomb structure, you look into a cell wall you’ll see another microstructure. That’s essentially how the world is built up. The Solid Mechanics Group is looking at different link scales and how that can be used in practical everyday applications like a railway track or a car. It’s got a real practical sense as well.
JW: How do your athletic pursuits positively influence your life?
JC: For me I find sport gives me a real balance to my life. Without sport I’d probably get really uptight or super energetic. Sport allows me to release a lot of excess energy and think clearly as well. You know you’ve got to achieve something because at a certain time; you sort of have a regimental structure.
JW: How did you get into rowing?
JC: I started rowing when I was about 11. I really found that racing was the big thing; I used to go out with my dad first thing on Sunday morning, it would be 6am and the sun would just be coming up in the winter and there would be all this mist. It used to be such a an achievement being 12 years old and going out rowing with my dad and coming back and having conquered the river. After that I got into racing and I became quite successful at winning some small-town regatta races. Then I rowed at school, did the Junior World’s for Great Britain. Then went onto row when I was at the University of London, did under-23s and won the Senior World Cups, and then onto Oxford and did the last three boat races. It’s all been balanced around work and studies and sport.
JW: If you weren’t an athlete in your sport, what other profession would you choose?
JC: For me I would choose entrepreneurship. I love the sense of ownership you get from being a sportsman, you only have yourself to blame and you have very particular targets and goals you want to achieve.
JW: Do you like to train in rowing?
JC: With rowing, it’s a very interesting sport. It’s a mix of power and endurance. It’s also a mixture between extreme physical intensity and technique. There’s a lot of synchronisation across different athletes in the same boat; when I do a boat race, there are eight of us and we’ve all got to try and feed each other all the way through whilst trying to push as hard as we can. It’s a very holistic sport.
JW: What do you love and hate about it?
JC: What I hate about it is being tired. It’s such a physically intensive sport, you train two or three times a day. I think afterwards you’re just exhausted; you can’t necessarily do all the other things you want to do in your life.
JW: What do you like to do to relax?
JC: Going and getting a beer with your friends. Chilling out in the pub. I find sport in particular is a great way to socialise, a great way to meet new people and brilliant way to zone out of all the small things that can happen in life that can block out your clear thinking.
JW: What is your ultimate goal in life?
JC: To be happy – having a sense of purpose is the key to that. Everyday you’re trying to go one small baby-step further toward achieving that goal. To be happy you have to have goals to achieve and share those experiences with other people.
JW: What is your ultimate goal in sport?
JC: For me, I won the boat race with Oxford and I had my brother in the same boat – we’ve rowed together for a long time in my career and now my brother is a part of Senior team during the World Championships later this summer for Great Britain. Being in the same boat, there’s a lot on the line and it was extremely satisfying to be there on the finish line to win with him and share that experience with him alongside all my other crewmates. Going forward the ultimate goal is to win Gold at the Olympics.
JW: I also want to talk about this expedition. Can you talk about that a bit?
JC: Next summer we’re looking to row down the Kafue River – 900km in 14 days. It’s this Oxford and Cambridge boat race challenge where each athlete comes together and the goal is to essentially raise as much money for village water that brings wells to the local areas to provide clean and sustainable water. We’re also raising money for the Kafue River and Rowing Centre, which is a combined effort between World Rowing and WWF to understand the water and what’s going on in the ecosystem and to create a facility where new local Southern African rowers can train to compete with the best athletes at the next Olympic Games.