World Rowing Championships: Callum Dixon on dyslexia

Callum Dixon rowing, smiling as he looks directly at the camera
Callum Dixon made his worldwide rowing debut in 2022
Venue: Belgrade, Serbia Dates: 3-10 September
Protection: Watch reside finals on Saturday (12:00-14:45 BST) and Sunday (12:00-14:30 BST) on BBC iPlayer, Pink Button, BBC Sport web site & app, with highlights on Sunday on BBC Two (16:00-17:00 BST)

It has lengthy been stated that sport is a good leveller – an escape from actuality, the world during which variations are put apart in pursuit of 1 widespread purpose.

It’s actually the case for Callum Dixon. In sport, he says, “no person’s going to ask me to do one thing that I feel I can not do”.

In so-called “actual life”, his extreme dyslexia means he can solely examine 25 phrases. He can’t learn a e book, or a menu in a restaurant, or differentiate between bathroom doorways that say ‘males’ or ‘ladies’.

However what he can do is row – and the Olympics are in his sights.

Dixon, now 23, was round eight years outdated when he seen he couldn’t do the issues his friends may with obvious ease.

The alphabet by no means caught. “I keep in mind by no means fairly understanding what even it was, struggling to say the names of the letters. It was such a hurdle,” he tells BBC Sport.

“I could not perceive why I could not get it at any stage. At possibly age 12, 14, you marvel if it’ll occur at any time? Why hasn’t this occurred?”

Rising up within the Mile Finish space of east London, Dixon and his three siblings have been house educated. Within the afternoons and evenings, he took half in each ‘after faculty’ membership, sports activities group or Scouts group he may squeeze in.

He did attend faculty for a really brief time frame, and recollects struggling to learn his lecturers’ questions written on the board.

“I perceive that simply understanding what the query is should not be the troublesome half,” he says. “The troublesome half needs to be answering the query.

“I keep in mind beginning to journey alone, utilizing the Tube. The troublesome half in all probability should not be studying the station it is advisable get off at, making an attempt to memorise each cease on a sure line so that you knew what was coming and the place you have been.”

At present, Dixon nonetheless depends closely on the assist of others, specifically his dad and mom. They assist him pay his payments, and fill out types, and his mum performed an enormous half in him being awarded a level in psychology by way of the Open College.

“She learn every part, and wrote all my solutions,” he says. “She learn each single phrase of my diploma with me.”

He fears what the long run will maintain, what he’ll do when he has to “self-sustain” and has to get a “actual” job after his athletic profession. “It nonetheless feels so unattainable, that’s going to be such an enormous hurdle,” he says.

However for now, he has sport – and “one of the best job on the earth”.

Tom Barras, Matt Haywood, George Bourne and Callum Dixon competing at a rowing World Cup
In July, Dixon (far proper, within the bow seat) and his crewmates gained silver on the World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland

Dixon began out as a sailor, becoming a member of his native membership as a baby earlier than progressing up the ranks and becoming a member of the British group in 2016.

A member of the under-23 squad, he was set for a profitable future within the Finn class, one which probably would have included turning into an Olympian – a dream he had held since being captivated by London 2012.

However when in 2018 World Crusing introduced it was dropping the Finn – a category dominated by Britain’s Sir Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott at latest Video games – from the Olympic programme from Paris 2024 onwards, Dixon needed to change sports activities if he was to make his dream a actuality.

Enter rowing, recommended to him by Scott as his brother, Nick, was head of efficiency at British Rowing on the time. Quick ahead to 2022 and Dixon was making his World Cup debut as a rower.

Dixon’s top means he fits rowing, however it’s a sport that additionally fits him as a result of “it’s all numbers”, not phrases.

“We do like doing the identical issues day by day. We get our programme and I simply have to know the way far I am going at present,” he says.

Earlier this yr, he was chosen within the males’s quadruple sculls for the European Championships, ending fourth, and it’s within the quad that he’ll once more line up on the World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, this week.

It’s a competitors that brings added incentive. Dixon and his crewmates George Bourne, Matt Haywood and Tom Barras have the possibility to qualify the British boat for subsequent yr’s Olympics, with seven quota locations up for grabs.

“I am very excited. I feel this one is a little more particular as a result of it is qualification as nicely, so it is bought an added layer of pleasure and nerves,” says Dixon.

“I undoubtedly really feel the additional strain. You construct all through an Olympiad, this is not the top purpose for certain, the top purpose is Paris nevertheless it’s an enormous stepping stone in making Paris a actuality.

“Going to the Olympics could be fairly particular. That is one thing that has been a dream for nearly so long as I can keep in mind.

“For it to truly occur, I do not fairly know the way I might really feel however I’m excited.”