1990: Results dip down under

The GB women’s rowing team’s journey to the 1990 World Championships in Tasmania was particularly bitty. With the regatta not taking place until November, as is always the case when the Worlds are in the southern hemisphere, there was time for new Chief Coach Bob Michaels to reselect all of the openweight crews in August.

When the team finally got to Australia, the river in Geelong where they had their final training camp was in flood. Then conditions were horrendously windy during most of the racing on Lake Barrington, leading to a particularly ridiculous start for the women’s pair of Kate Grose and Jo Gough. The lightweight for were aiming for gold but got rowed out of the medals on the line. It was all very disappointing.


The photo at the top of this page, from Sue Key’s personal collection, shows China (in the yellow boat) inching past GB to snatch the bronze medal in the lightweight coxless fours.

Joanna Toch

Jo’s long rowing international career began in 1979 when her Weybridge Ladies ARC crew was selected to be the first GB women’s four to race at the FISA Championships for Juniors. She then rowed for GB at senior level eight times over 11 years, including at both the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980 at the tender age of 18, and the Los Angeles Games in 1984, before switching to lightweight and winning a silver medal in the coxless four in 1989.


Woman with medal

Jo recently with her 1989 World Championships silver medal. (Photo © Helena Smalman-Smith.)

Felicity Medinnis-Leach

Felicity, who lived in Geneva and had competed for Switzerland in 1988, raced at the Worlds in 1990 in the lightweight double with Helen Mangan, who lived in Chester, but they made it work, mostly thanks to the generosity of Felicity’s employer. She’s one of the few members of the 1990 team with positive memories of the regatta.

Since then this bubbling rowing enthusiast has competed in and run one of the longest inland non-stop rowing races, coached in Switzerland and Germany, and won countless medals at World Masters level.


woman with medal and bouquet of flowers

Winning her 10th title at the Swiss Championships in 2003. (Photo: Felicity Medinnis-Leach’s personal collection.)

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