Lauren Henry from Leicester wins Senior trials

The Great Britain Senior and U23 April trials, are the culmination of the trialling season. The winners are usually fairly predictable and always, always, come from within; within the realms of the GB Rowing Team, ie athletes from the National Training Centre base at Caversham; and never, in the case of open men or women, never an under 23!

For this not to be the case, either shows that the talent at Caversham is not what it once was, or that a fluke performance occurred, or, someone of equal talent and potential to those at the centre has been discovered.

The first of these premises can be firmly allayed. The GB rowing team is one of the most talented sports teams across the world, the training required to reach the top is substantial and relentless, the rowers at the centre are incredibly talented, competitive and professional. The results for the GB team at last year’s World Rowing Championships, coming top of the medal table: 7 gold, 1 silver and 4 bronze, underlines that status.

Maybe it was a fluke. Taken across this season’s previous GB trials, November and February, coming 2nd and 3rd respectively, would suggest that this result was no fluke, but was a fruition of competency and consistency.

So we’re left with the last of the options: someone of equal talent and potential. This would seem to be the picture that is being painted, in ever stronger brush strokes. I think those of us who have witnessed at first hand the progress, have always known that success would come. From watching the way Lauren battled her way to first place over 1000m at Peterborough Summer regatta as a J14: through her first major win, at the J16 National Championships: dominating the national scene in the junior ranks and being selected to go to Tokyo for the World Rowing Championships in 2019: to then, after Covid and lockdowns, being the top U23 female sculler in GB and finishing 4th two years in succession at the World U23 Championships, Lauren has always worked hard, incredibly hard, to make her dreams come true.

The fact that, Lauren has trained pretty much on her own, not part of a big squad, much of that time spent on a bike, hours and hours spent on a bike, in her family garage, speaks volumes about the determination and dedication she has. It’s not been all plain-sailing either for Lauren. A series of rib stress fractures over the covid era and into the 2021 season, have been incredibly tough tests for her. The fact that she keeps getting up and trying again, and again, is the spirit which will surely get her to the very top of the world.

The trials

They consist of a time trial on Saturday morning to broadly rank all the athletes: Men and women in their respective events in singles and pairs. Then in the afternoon the semi-finals take place to decide on the finals on Sunday.

In the time trial, Lauren sculled a conservative race early race, finishing strongly, to place 3rd, comfortably qualifying for the A/B semi-final – these are the the top 12 ranked scullers.

Saturday afternoons semis came round and Lauren was drawn with Hannah Scott who got to the final of the senior World Championships in a single last year and Georgie Brayshaw who was part of the World Champs silver medal quad.

The top 3 were comfortable and finished with Hannah in first, Lauren 2nd and Georgie 3rd.

The other semi final was very much a lightweight affair, with the two outstanding lightweights Emily Craig and Imogen Grant finishing 1st and 2nd with Liv Bates, from Nottingham another young promising talent, in 3rd.

Onto Sunday morning and finals day. Who was going to grasp the opportunity from the finely balanced and what looked like, evenly matched field?

Unfortunately, all we have to go on is the final positions. After chatting to Lauren, her aim was to be in the race, be part of the pack and then use her strengths, incredible endurance – all those hours on a bike in the garage – to best effect in the 2nd half of the race. All I can say is, the plan must have worked well, as she came home victorious.

The official results were:
1 Lauren HENRY *, Leicester RC & University of Leicester BC
2 Hannah SCOTT, Bann RC / Leander Club
3 Imogen GRANT (LW), Cambridge University BC
4 Emily CRAIG (LW), University of London BC
5 Georgie BRAYSHAW, Leander Club
6 Olivia BATES (LW), Nottinghamshire County RA

Many, many congratulations on your momentous win Lauren. Leicester Rowing Club are all so proud of your achievements. I’m sure it’ll not be long before we’re watching you on the TV representing the GB Rowing Team as a full international. All the very best of luck in your future endeavours!