STAGING The Road to Tokyo - British Rowing

The Road to Tokyo

Watch the three-part, behind-the-scenes documentary of the GB Rowing Team as it prepares for a Games unlike any other


The Road to Tokyo, a compelling behind-the-scenes documentary into the teamwork and commitment of British Rowing’s Olympic and Paralympic squads, is exclusively available to watch for free today on the British Rowing website. The three, 30-minute episodes tell the athletes’ stories as they strive for selection for the rearranged Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Watch all three episodes


In the first episode, filmed back in 2019, we see and hear from the squads as they race at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Linz, which doubles as the Olympic and Paralympic qualifying regatta, then at their ‘final’ training camps and build up to Olympic Trials before the Team for the 2020 Games is due to be announced. This is an emotional fly-on-the-wall view of the incredible highs and brutal lows of being an elite athlete.

Watch the trailer

Episode 2 opens at British Rowing’s Olympic Trials in 2020 and looks at the pressure the athletes and their families feel. We then see the unplanned impact of lockdown and how the rowers responded to the uncertainty of the Games being postponed.  This includes training in isolation in their homes for months on end trying to keep motivated and remain positive throughout, whilst going through their own personal journeys. The episode also highlights how the Games postponement led to the retirement of Jürgen Gröbler, the long-standing GB Rowing Team Chief Coach, and several of the more established squad members including Pete Lambert, Zoe Lee, Will Satch and Alan Sinclair.

The third and final episode shows how the extra year has had a positive impact on the GB Rowing Team including the return of Helen Glover and how a new coaching structure is helping to rejuvenate and drive the crews forward.  It also follows the athletes as they make a long-awaited and successful return to racing at the 2021 European Rowing Championships and the athletes’ jubilation as they are finally selected for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Kenny Baillie, Director of Partnerships and Communications at British Rowing said: “The story of the Olympics and Paralympics is timeless and the intention of The Road to Tokyo is to give this generation of British athletes and coaches the opportunity to show the world how they overcome the impossible to inspire, drive and excite the next generation.

“The sport of rowing at international level, and increasingly at domestic level, is gender equal while the Olympic and Paralympic squads are supported equally by sharing the same training facilities, performance support services and sponsors.  Our ambition for the film was to show the viewers how the athletes and different programmes integrate seamlessly with one another in pursuit of their dreams and goals.

“Additionally, the postponement of Tokyo 2020 and the subsequent lockdowns resulted in new ways of working and we felt it was important to keep making the film, and give as much access as we could, in order that the rowing community and sports fans could see how the athletes worked with their coaches and families to figure out how to keep their training and preparation on track.”

The film was written, filmed and edited by Adam Heayberd of Truly Sweet Visuals.