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The GB team in training

University of Exeter Boat Club head to Rotterdam for the U23 World Rowing Championships

After coming 2nd at the Easter trials, rowing scholar Susannah Duncan has been selected to represent Great Britain at the U23 World Rowing Championships in Rotterdam from 21 – 28 August 2016. She will be competing in the lightweight women’s quad event with three other girls from Edinburgh, Manchester and Wallingford, and the British crew is being coached by Richard Tinkler of the University of Exeter Boat Club (EUBC). Here she shares an insight into her sport, her life as a high performance athlete and her training regime.

“In the lightweight rowing event, the crew’s average weight must be <57kg (the average female rower weighs approx. 70-75kg). Unlike rowers in other categories, lightweights must eat an exceptionally healthy diet, and have flawless technique and mental toughness as well as the typical rower’s strength and fitness. Therefore, there is additional stress on the athletes, as well as the coaches, to get the balance right. Fortunately, Richard has many years of experience coaching lightweight women at international level as well as at EUBC. His expertise with this category is invaluable, as shown at BUCS earlier this year where Exeter’s lightweight women won medals in every lightweight event except for the pair, which came fourth.

 “The U23 World Championships are later than usual this summer to avoid clashes with the Olympics. This means that the team have an extra few weeks to train as a crew and to prepare to race internationally. The training camp is 7 weeks long and is based at the GBRT Olympic training centre in Caversham (Reading). We’re very lucky to have a chance to train in such an inspirational place full of photos and walls of honour for all the past Olympians. This also gives us an insight into what to senior teams go through and what we need to do to step and achieve that Olympic dream.

“A day on camp starts with a 6:20 alarm, morning monitoring (resting heart rate, body mass, hydration), followed by first breakfast at 6:40. The first session kicks off at 7:30 with an 18km row on the water, before a second breakfast at 9:45 in order to refuel for a 12km session on the rowing machine. After lunch, there is just enough time to recover before a weights session at 15:00. Dinner is served at 18:30, and the day ends with a yoga session at 20:00 before crashing to bed and preparing to start the process all over again!

“Being a sports scholar at Exeter has been a great help to me this year financially, as well as with academic and coaching support. My mentor helped me to resolve stressful situations such as timetable issues, and to cope with the inevitable clash of competitions and deadlines. It enabled me to settle into my first year of university life more quickly and get the most out of my course and rowing from the start. The high performance environment has really helped me to improve as an athlete and to achieve goals that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

 “I’m really enjoying the rowing, our crew get on really well and we’re all very excited about the Worlds. We’ve sacrificed so much to get here and we’re all determined to deliver a world-class performance in Rotterdam. Not too long now until we travel out to the racing venue - after so much training I can’t wait to race!”

The team’s first heat will be held on Monday 22 August - follow the racing live on the World Rowing website.

The University of Exeter has been awarded The Times & The Sunday Times Good Universities Guide 2016 Sports University of the Year, following significant investment and development over the past 10 years. The University has also achieved a Global 100 ranking in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The prestigious rankings, which mean Exeter retains its position as best in the South West, take into account a wide range of factors, including student satisfaction and research excellence. 

Date: 8 August 2016