A couple of months ago, with 100 days to go until the Rio Olympics, I had a chance to thank a few of the people without whom I would not be here where I am today. My thank yous then went to the most important people in my life – my parents – Laine, Tedi, and Magnus (only extra special people get a parental unit of three!), my best friend Katie, and my wonderful boyfriend Alex. You all know how much I love you, thank you for making me who I am. Equally to the eccentric bunch that make up my family and friends – Max, Harry, Bennie, Suzie, all the Kayes/Kagans/Slavins, the De Toledos in Turkey and the USA, Mike Brunner, Morgan, Lenny, Marion, Chrisy, Sara, Ella, Finn, the list is endless! Your support is never ending and hugely important, thank you all. However there are a few more thank yous to be made, to those inside the rowing world that have allowed me, and my crew, to learn and build speed.
We are lucky as full time athletes to have incredible support from the GB Rowing Team, UK Sport, the EIS, and the National Lottery. However I also want to say thank you to a number of companies and individuals that have helped support me in a variety of ways – I hope to keep living up to your brilliant standards. Thank you to: GLL and Nutritious Works for helping me to stay at fighting weight; to Meridian foods and Belvoir fruit farms for providing tasty treats and refreshing beverages; and to Square Blades and Rheign Clothing for making sure I’m always well dressed. Thank you to Rachel Quarrell for giving me the chance to become a part-time rowing journo, and for her wise words of coxing advice. Lastly, a special thank you to my Irish sisters at Queen B Athletics – Brid and Aedin, not only have you kept me well clad in beautiful lycra, but you have also taken me into the QBA family, and have become hugely important friends, confidants and supporters along the way.
As a cox and coach I have had the opportunity to race and train with a shockingly large number of boat clubs. Every single one of these has taught me something, and although some of you may not even remember when I stepped into a boat with you, thank yous to: Henley RC, Upper Thames RC, Taurus BC, Imperial College BC, St Edward’s School BC, Reading University BC, Newcastle University BC, Greenbank Falmouth RC, Keble College BC, St Catherine’s College BC, Chirst Church College BC, Balliol College BC, Trinity College BC, Pembroke College BC, Bewdley BC and Stourport BC. I’m sure there are more but that’s all I can remember right now!
On top of this there are a few clubs which deserve special mention, as they were instrumental in their attempts to teach me to cox. My first rudder strings were pulled at St Paul’s Girls’ School Boat Club, and it was here that rowing fever took hold of me. Especially thank you to Louise Hopper (and David) for making it happen. My first proper senior clubs – Thames RC and Molesey BC – with whom I raced my first HWR, HRR, Head of the River, Vet’s fours/eights head…the list goes on. Thank you for taking the time to teach a young and very inexperienced cox what on earth to do. Thank you to my first university club Oxford Brookes – you gave me belief in myself, and more than a little bit of sass. My time at the Oxford University BC was more than a little tumultuous, but the knowledge I gained about myself and about my coxing there changed me completely, I hope for the better. My crewmates from OUBC have supported and encouraged me when I needed it the most, so to the Pirates of PISIS 2011, and to the 3 and 4 men, the has-beens, the ex-lightweights, and Karl, of my 2012 crew – thank you so much. Finally to Leander Club – you have given me every opportunity I needed to step into the senior team, and have taught me to be a more consistent and reliable cox. Thank you for all your support, especially to the Ladies Plate Crew of 2008, without whom I would never have known how important it is to always have your C hat on.
So many coaches along the way have pushed me on, built me up, given me tough love and thoughtful words when I needed them. This list is far from complete, but a special mention to those who have had the biggest impact on my coxing career – David Porteous, Rachel Knight, Ben Lewis, Nick Strange, Don McLachlan, Sean Bowden, Andy Nelder, Dan Topolski, Seb Pearce, Paul Thompson, and Robin Williams. Also to the incredible staff of GB Rowing who have bandaged me up, fed me (Omar I don’t know how I’ll live without you!), made me cups of tea, entertained me during morning monitoring, long ergs, and weights sessions, written me training programmes and taken me out running, and generally done everything in their power to make our boat go that little bit faster. You are not just the “team behind the team”, you are some of our biggest and most important supporters and advisors. Thank you all!
Our eight is not just made up of the 9 people who occupy it’s seats, but also everyone who has sat there previously, and therefore made it what it is now. In my four years in the team there are a huge number of athletes who have trained and raced in the eight, and without them we would not be where we are now. I’m sure I’ll forget someone, so please forgive me if I do, but huge thank yous, in no particular order, to: Louisa Reeve, Vicki Meyer-Laker, Rosamund Bradbury, Donna Etiebet, Beth Rodford, Caragh McMurtry, Lucinda Gooderham, Monica Relph, Sarah Cowburn, Becca Chin, Holly Norton, Fiona Gammond, Melissa Wilson, and Morgan Baynham-Williams.
I’m sure there are many people that I’ve missed, so please feel free to shout at me, especially if you’ve had to endure me screaming at you at any point in my coxing career. It’s only fair really.
When we sit on the start line at the Rio Olympics, it may look like just the 9 of us in the boat, but in reality there are hundreds of people who have played their part in getting us there. We will be racing for you. Lastly, my most hysterical thank yous go to my crewmates, aka the 9 best friends that anyone could have. Katie Greves, Mel Wilson, Frances Houghton, Polly Swann, Jess Eddie, Olivia Carnegie-Brown, Karen Bennett, Zoe Lee and James Harris. There are no words good enough in my little gnome heart to describe you heroes. Well, except maybe one – sassy.