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!

AGM 2022

GB Rowing Team, Open Trials, Caversham, 22nd May 2021

This years U23 and senior trials, took on a slightly different tone, with social distancing and masks worn at all times, unless on the water rowing. The racing, was, as ever, extremely competitive. Outside of the senior squad, over 140 of the top male and female rowers from across Britain came to Caversham seeking selection for the World U23 Championships and to get noticed by the selectors.

In the women’s single sculls, having not competed for 18 months due to the pandemic and injury, Lauren Henry took to the water in good shape, but in slightly cautious mood, not knowing what the opposition might do. Before the event she said, “You never know what your opposition might do on the day, there are some really fast girls competing. I can only do my race and execute my plan to the best of my ability.”

The trials were originally going to be a 2 day event, but were condensed into 1 day due to adverse weather predictions for Sunday. The format was to run a time trial in the morning, from which crews would be seeded into groups of 6 for the finals in the afternoon; top 6 go to the A final, 7th to 12th to the B final and so on.

Starting 8th, in a field of 22, Lauren powered her way down the course in her time trial. Her coach Howard Marsh said, “I could tell she was going to have a good scull, she was totally focussed on what she had to do beforehand. I watched her come down the course, I was very impressed, she looked like she executed what we spoke about before the race really well. Talking about it before hand is one thing, but to actually do it is quite something else.”

The result of the time trial could not have been better. Lauren won, and had a nice cushion in time over the next placed girl. Time trials can be funny things, and some people don’t always race them so well, so Lauren couldn’t afford to get too excited; there was still a final to race.

In the A final in the late afternoon, the top 6 girls lined up on the stakeboats. As the starter called the crews over, Lauren looked very calm and collected. As the race began, everyone powered out of the blocks and it was a very even start across the field. One of the scullers was making a bit of a sprint of it and narrowly led through the 500m mark, but it was pretty even across all the other crews, with just 3 seconds separating all 6, with Lauren sitting in 2nd nudging her bows in front of the rest. By halfway, Lauren was beginning to push ahead of her rivals, who were all still very tightly packed, with little over a length separating 2nd to 6th. The rest of the field stayed almost in a line as Lauren, rating a powerful 34 forged further ahead. As the race came into the closing stages, it became quite clear there was only going to be one winner. Lauren, maintaining the intensity she had from the first stroke, crossed the line several lengths of clear water ahead of the chasing pack. A job well done!

Afterwards Lauren said, “It was great to be back racing after all this time. I’m obviously really pleased to have won, but I’m especially pleased with the way the race went. We had trained well over the last few weeks, and I wanted to race the way I train; I felt like I did that today.” Her coach commented that he could see that Lauren was in a very good place mentally and that she was taking the confidence from her training into her racing. It was a real joy to see her push through against such a strong field and keep the focus all the way to the line. Even when things were tight in the first 500m, Lauren kept cool, stuck to her plan and raced all the way.

There will be more testing to be done in regards to potential selection for the U23 World Championships, held this year in the Czech Republic in mid July. Lauren has, however, put down a clear marker to the selectors and shown them what she is capable of. Saturday could not have gone any better.

Sophie Connolly breaks World Record!

The club being closed and not being allowed out on the water didn’t stop club member Sophie Connolly who got up one morning and decided to go for the World Record for 100,000 metres on the rowing machine. 7 hours 44 minutes and 21.2 seconds later Sophie was a World Record holder with the achievement officially confirmed by Concept 2.

Congratulations from everyone at the club Sophie!

National Championships Win for Lauren Henry

Leicester Rowing Club’s single sculler Lauren Henry topped a successful season by winning her Junior 16 age category at the British Rowing Junior Championships on Sunday. Over 2 days of gruelling competition Lauren came out on top of a field of 28 athletes from around the UK. Third place in Saturday’s time trial was followed by victory in the semi-final, which secured a prime lane for the final. After making a positive start in the 5-boat final Lauren patiently worked her way through the field to hit the front in the final 500m before rowing away from her opposition to win by an impressive margin of over 4 seconds. This victory follows a semi-final appearance at Henley Women’s Regatta racing against rowers two years her senior and wins in both national and regional regattas in her own age category earlier in the season.

Afterwards a delighted Lauren commented, ‘It was definitely a really tough race – but I just stuck to my race plan and it worked in the end. I would like to thank my coach, Howard Marsh. Without him none of this would have been possible. I would also like to thank Leicester Rowing Club who have supported me in many ways throughout this season’

Coach Howard Marsh, who was presented with a gold medal by Lauren to recognise his efforts comments ‘Lauren has worked incredibly hard over the last 10 months. She sculled with great maturity, sticking to her race plan when other scullers were ahead of her, fighting her way back, before sprinting clear. This year has not been all plain sailing, it’s had its ups and downs, but Lauren has consistently shown a great deal of determination to improve. This win really caps off a very good season for her and I know she is looking forward to making more progress next year and potentially being selected for the GB Junior team.

Club President Liz Pulford added
‘We are all very proud of what Lauren has achieved and have been impressed by her hard work and determination.’

Watch Lauren racing her final on Youtube from 7:15:00

Win For Jonny Walton in GB Quad in Lucerne

In the final Rowing World Cup of the season, held on the famous Rotsee course in Lucerne, Switzerland, Great Britain’s quad scull, with Leicester Rowing Club’s Jonny Walton at 2, came through strongly in the 2nd half of the final to beat the Dutch crew by 0.74 seconds, or about ¼ of a length.  The GB crew of Tom Barras at stroke, Graeme Thomas at 3, Jonny at 2, John Collins at bow, coached by Paul Stannard, rowed a very controlled race for the first half.  At 1000m they were lying 4th, ¾ of a length down on the race leaders Germany.  The GB quad then raised their rate by 2 pips and started to make inroads into the leaders.  By the 1500 mark, they were in 2nd, just behind the Dutch who had also sculled past the German quad.  At 1500m GB went up another pip, then raised their rate by one every 100m into the finish, where they crossed the line rating 42.

The GB quad also won the Quad sculls World Cup series, having gained the most points over the three races, where they picked up gold in Belgrade, Linz the y finished 7th and gold in Lucerne.

The quad, hopefully with Jonny on board, will race next at the European Sports Championships, with the rowing being held this year at Strathclyde Country Park in Scotland, from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th August.  For tickets for the rowing, go to:

Jonny Walton – World Championship 2017 blog

Expect the unexpected.

Sport is never a foregone conclusion, the craziest of things happen and this was definitely the case during our time at the World Championships in Florida, USA a few weeks ago.

The dust has now settled and looking back, the 30 minutes between 12:00pm and 12:30pm at lunchtime on Saturday 30th September 2017 will remain with me forever.

We had a great run into the Championships and our acclimatisation to the heat and the water had gone well. Irma’s destruction luckily missed the rowing course, with very limited damage, a few palm trees on their side but that’s about it. All this years’ hard work was coming to an end and we wanted to finish the season off in style. Continue reading “Jonny Walton – World Championship 2017 blog”