STAGING CEO Membership Column – July 2021 - British Rowing

CEO Membership Column – July 2021

This month Andy spotlights the Tokyo Olympics which begin on Friday 23 July


At the British Rowing Masters Championships (c) Drew Smith

Tokyo 2020 is finally almost here. After a year’s delay, the Olympics are just round the corner and our athletes, coaches and support staff will be on their way to Tokyo shortly.

Our Olympic team was officially announced on 9 June by the British Olympic Association, with 45 rowers representing Team GB in Japan. We wish all ten crews – athletes, spares and coaches – the very best of luck as they finally have the chance to put all their hard work over the last few months to the test against the world’s best at the Sea Forest Waterway.


On 25 June, it was the turn of our Para-rowers to be selected with ParalympicsGB naming the team for Tokyo. Our eight Para-rowers include three reigning Paralympic champions and five athletes who are selected for the first time for the Games which begin on Tuesday 24 August.

The U23 team was also announced on 1 July with the U23 World Rowing Championships hosted by the Czech village of Racice later this month. Our U23 athletes have not had a chance to race for nearly two years, so it’s great to see this important first step towards international competition. I would also like to recognise the rowers who were selected for this squad, but who, due to COVID-19 policies, will not be able to attend. This is no fault of their own and I look forward to seeing them in GB vests in the future. It’s an important reminder to our whole community of the need to remain vigilant against COVID-19.

Congratulations to all athletes who have been selected to represent Great Britain at these regattas.

It was fantastic to see the first physical British Rowing Championship event since late 2019 take place last month

At international junior level, we have made the decision to withdraw the team from both the World Rowing Junior Championships and the Coupe de la Jeunesse. This is because current guidance from The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and UK Sport only provides dispensation for elite athletes travelling to Tokyo 2020 or preparing for the Paris 2024 cycle. Again it’s an incredibly unfortunate situation and I’d like to recognise the achievement of the rowers who have trained hard to be selected and look forward to them racing for Great Britain in the future.

Moving to domestic competitions, it was fantastic to see the first physical British Rowing Championship event since late 2019 take place last month. Held in Nottingham, the British Rowing Masters Championships took place in glorious sunshine, with a significantly reduced entry, and over one day.

This event is always so enjoyable – the feel is friendly yet competitive and this year was no different. It was clear that many of our members love the opportunity to test themselves and, after the year we have had, the smiles were ever present as everyone had a taste of some sort of normality. Thanks to everyone who helped make the weekend such a success.

The weekend of 16-18 July is set to be a racing extravaganza with the British Rowing Junior Championships taking place in Nottingham while the British Rowing Offshore Championships and Beach Sprints are being held over the same weekend in picturesque Exmouth. Good luck to all taking part and thanks to everyone who is volunteering.

At community level, the new annual fundraiser from the Love Rowing foundation – the Big Row – took place last week and it was great to see rugby legends Lawrence Dallaglio and Martin Bayfield getting involved. The initiative encourages clubs, teams and individuals to take on a rowing challenge to help raise funds to support inclusive rowing programmes, so more people can enjoy the benefits of our wonderful sport.

A week before, we also launched Go Row Indoor Schools, a free, online platform with a library of resources to give teachers everything they need to teach indoor rowing. The aim is to make it easy for state schools to offer indoor rowing as part of the national curriculum, by providing fun activities and workouts, as well as promoting good physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Meanwhile, our series of Club Guides continue to be rolled out to support the rowing community with the latest edition containing advice on developing adaptive rowing at your club. We have also released a guide called Time for Tokyo designed to help signpost clubs to all the relevant guidance as they prepare for rowing being in the shop window in Tokyo. There are other Club Guides in the pipeline – look out for a Club Development Guide coming soon too.

Earlier in the month, we published some minor amendments to our COVID-19 guidance here following the delay to the easing of current restrictions. The focus is on ensuring that affiliated competitions have all the necessary information to put on safe racing.

Finally, it was fantastic to see rowers recognised in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours list. Many congratulations to Kate O’Sullivan, British Rowing Deputy Chair, and Anne Hock on receiving a British Empire Medal. There are many volunteers up and down the country and without your efforts, rowing just wouldn’t happen. Thanks to everyone who gives their spare time to support the sport at every level. We really do appreciate the efforts of each one of our amazing volunteers.

Andy Parkinson
British Rowing CEO