Walking into Bann Rowin g Club you can get a real sens e of the magic which surrounds the place.
The humble surroundings can’t disguise the the aura of the place, which has produced, and continues to porduce, countless champions.
Waiting for me in a room full of rowing machines is the latest Bann protege, in his GB Rowing jacket.
Joel Cassells has covered many kilometres in this room staring out over the River Bann.
Those hard miles could prove all important over the next six months as Joel works himself into contention for a seat on one of the boats heading to Brazil.
If he gets there it will further enhance the already glowing reputation Bann has both in the UK and further afield.
“They are always very surprised when I tell them where I’m from because they say ‘oh you’re another Coleraine man!’,” he tells me when I pose the question about how Bann is thought of in England.
“It’s great we have that reputation now, it has been built up over the last few years and hopefully there will be more to come.”
Joel is first to admit he has drawn on the past experiences of fellow Bann men Peter and Richard Chambers and Alan Campbell as he makes the tough step up to senior level.
“I’ve found it tough enough stepping up to senior level,” he admitted.
“It’s a big, big change in terms of the workload, day in, day out the volume has been massive.
“For me it was a bit of a struggle to adjust to it, but by the end of the season I had got into the swing of it. It has been a good preparation year to jump into next season. I have to really, really push for that seat.
“There’s a lot of things which you don’t think about which really make a difference to you. Like how long it takes to travel from Caversham to home, what should you be eating, and is it too much or too little, how much sleep should I be getting, should I be napping through the day.
“It really is like a jigsaw and putting it all together in the right way is so important. The process has been difficult, but with the likes of Peter and Richard keeping me right it has been good. It really has been invaluable having their support. It can be quite daunting coming from Northern Ireland to an English set-up.
“So to have Peter, Richard and Alan there with their vast experience is invaluable to me. They keep me right with anything I need to know and they tell it straight up what is right and what is wrong.”
Joel has made the transition look easy though with his medal winning performances to date, but he admitted it hasn’t really sunk in yet.
“I think it will maybe be mid-December when I’m in the middle of a long erg it might sink in then,” he joked.
“No it hasn’t really and I think this following season will be the same. I just need to take it day by day and see what happens.
“Winning Gold with Peter was a very special moment for me. My old coach Seamus Reynolds always talked about the Bann pair, and winning the Europeans was definitely was a good highlight and a good start to my senior year.
“Moving on and jumping into the four for Varese was again a very special moment.
“I’ve had quite a few different boat changes and it’s been a roller coaster year.
“To win silver at the Under-23s was another special moment as it was my first international sculling medal.
“Then to finish off winning the Lightweight Pair at the Worlds was amazing, I don’t think I can complain about this year at all.”
He will be hoping for more of the same next year. Joel still remembers watching the Chambers brother in 2012 in a Church Hall in Coleraine.
“I remember sitting in the church watching the boys and my heart was in my hands with nerves, I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for them in the boat,” he said.
“Maybe that’s what it will be like if I manage to get a seat! Hopefully it won’t be as nerve-racking as that. It would be a great feeling to get there, and if I was able to inspire more people from here to do it would be amazing.
“For my career so far getting to the World Championships and winning gold has been the pinnacle. The next step up for me is the Olympics. It’s something to get very excited about.”