Thinking of getting into rowing in 2017? Eight rowers explain why they took up the sport

Whether it’s for the physical challenge or to meet new people, there are lots of great reasons to get into rowing in the new year


(Peter Spurrier/Intersport Images)

Christie Tsioupra, Bournemouth University Boat Club

“The main reason I row is because of the people you meet. I’m a cox and I like that I’m there for my crew to get the best out of them. That wouldn’t be the case if rowers weren’t so hard working, among many other things. Also the sunrises aren’t bad.”

Zoe de Toledo, Rio 2016 silver medal winning cox 

“I row because I’ve always enjoyed being on the water. I love the challenge of bringing eight people together, of reading the river in front of me, of constantly learning something new about the sport and my teammates. I love not knowing what the river is going to throw at me on any given day.”

Jon Goodall, Mad Team Indoor Rowing Club

“I first entered a race for fun in 1998. Seventeen years, 100 races, three relay world records and 21 gold medals later – has been beyond my wildest dreams. It’s given me a sporting career and some self-belief in everyday life too. I now row to assist my running training as the low impact helps keep injuries to a minimum.”

Emma Clifton, Cambridge University Lightweight Women’s Boat Club

“I hope rowing will always be part of my life. The biggest thing for me is the people you meet and the magic of contributing to a unit that you know is more than the sum of its parts.”

Richard Stanhope, Molesey Boat Club – Henley Royal Regatta Steward and Olympian

“I only started rowing again because Sir Steve [Redgrave] said he wanted to do the Head of the Charles River so I dusted off my towelling shorts and found out where in the garage I’d hidden the ergo.

“In his prime I wasn’t good enough to row with him, but 20 years of celebrity has brought him down to my level. When we rowed internationally we were stubborn, self centred/focussed (boring) and always tired from trying to balance competing in a sport we loved, and were good at, with trying to earn a living.

“Now, a group of us spanning Olympics from 1980-2012 – and Luka Spik who thinks he’s off to Rio! – have time to sit in the Dish cafe in Molesey after an outing and talk the same old rubbish with old friends and foes. It’s still a great way to spend your time.”

Pamela Relph, 2012 & 2016 Paralympic champion

“For me rowing is the ultimate form of teamwork. Learning and perfecting your stroke is hard enough, but doing it in a boat with up to seven other people takes cooperation to the next level.”

Jamie Sparks, ocean rower

“I row because it is an outlet for adventure. I wanted to roam the seas and test myself to the limit. When the time came to decide between sailing and rowing, I had to choose the hardest option. Rowing allowed all of Mother Nature to throw itself at me and having crossed both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans I can certainly say I’ll be leaving the oars for a while!”

Ray Peacock, Durham Amateur Rowing Club

“After 10 weeks of the learn-to-row course I was completely hooked. Rowing on the beautiful River Wear with the recreational rowers during the week and on Saturdays in an eight in the hugely motivating, competitive and hilarious company of our masters squad is a total joy. Losing 10 kilos and improving my fitness is a bonus too.”

This article originally appeared in the September 2015 edition of Rowing & Regatta magazine.

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