The 2001 World Rowing Championships took place on the Rotsee in Lucerne from 18-26 August. 67 openweight and 43 lightweight women’s crews from 37 countries raced. This was a similar number of crews to 1997 (the previous post-Olympic year), but the spread of competing nations was healthily up, with several emerging rowing nations represented and Israeli women competing for the first time.
Relatively unusually for a post-Olympic year, there were no changes to the programme of events.
Mike Spracklen, who had been Women’s Chief Coach for the previous Olympiad, and under whose guidance GB won their first World Championships openweight gold medals and first Olympic medal in 2000, did not have his contract renewed.
He was replaced for the next National Lottery-funded four-year cycle through to the Athens Olympic Games in 2004 by Marty Aitken, who became Chief Coach for Women and Lightweights in November 2000, and was joined in March 2001 by Paul Thompson, who was appointed High Performance Coach (Women). Both happened to be Australians. Aitken had previously been Head Coach in Switzerland, while Thompson had been coaching the Australian women’s pair who had won silver at the 2000 Games in Sydney.
In her autobiography Dreams Do Come True, Katherine Grainger describes Aitken as out-going, confident and energetic, noting, “He could have some crazy ideas but his enthusiasm and utter self-belief were endearing. Nothing was impossible.” An accomplished skiier, he introduced cross-country skiing to the team’s altitude camps in Sarnen, Switzerland, which proved challenging for those who had no experience of water in the ‘field of play’ in anything other than liquid form. Of ‘Thommo’, she writes, “From the beginning [he] had a technical eye that was truly world class.”
Later in the year, Miles Forbes-Thomas worked with the eight, Mark Banks (Chief Coach at Leander Club) the double scull, Ian South the quad, Maurice Hayes and Marysh Chmiel the lightweight pair and lightweight single, and Ron Needs the lightweight double.
Most of the 2000 openweight squad continued in the new Olympiad, although three of the top athletes did decide to retire from international competition: Miriam Batten and Gillian Lindsay, from the silver medal quad, and Dot Blackie, who had been in the pair. Francesca Zino from the eight also seems to have hung up her oar. Sarah Winckless also eventually had to withdraw from the squad for 2001 through injury and illness, but returned in 2002.
Guin Batten, the younger of the sisters, remembers being hugely motivated to continue, and to go one better than her silver medal from Sydney at Athens in 2004. “I wanted to win a gold, and we had such an amazing group athletes!,” she says.
The 11 returnees were joined by newcomers including four who brought significant international under-23 and junior experience, demonstrating the value of those pathways; Debbie Flood, Rebecca Romero, Ros Carslake and Nicole Scott. Debbie was a two-time under-23 world champion, having won the single sculls at the Nations Cup in 2000 (as well as the women’s sculls events at Henley Royal Regatta, Henley Women’s Regatta and the National Championships) and the double sculls (with Frances Houghton) in 1999. Rebecca and Ros had won the pairs at the Nations Cup in 2000, after Rebecca had come fourth in the single there in 1999, while Nicole had competed at three Nations Cups (winning bronze in 1998). All four had been in the GB junior team too, and Rebecca and Debbie had competed at the Commonwealth Regatta in 1999.
The highest level of athlete Lottery-funded grants were approximately £7,000 a year.
Winter training, assessment and racing
As the year progressed, plans were firmed up for a new and exclusive £10m training facility for the entire GB squad that would be built at Caversham near Reading, but for this season, the women were still largely based at Longridge near Marlow. On-water training was difficult throughout the winter of 2000-2001, with the Thames in flood and then access to the river restricted because of an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease. The first 1,000m of Eton College’s new rowing lake at Dorney had just opened, though, which the squad used fairly frequently.
British Indoor Rowing Championships (26 November 2000)
Debbie Flood was the fastest woman, clocking a time of 6’53.2″, while Julia Warren took the lightweight event in 7’24.2″. Notably, former lightweight international Helen Mangan set a new world record for the lightweight 40-49 age category in winning the 40-44 event in 7’15”. She went on to lower this to 7’12.7″ the following spring at the CRASH-B Indoor Rowing Championships in Boston, USA.
Assessment (December 2000)
These took the form of a 5,000m piece in single sculls at Boston.
NOTE: Names shown in italics denote those who have previously represented GB at senior level and those in bold are women who went on to be selected for the senior team in 2001.
1. Debbie Flood (18.18)
2. Frances Houghton (18.17)
3. Elise Laverick (18.35)
4. Alison Mowbray (18.36)
5. Kate Mackenzie (18.39)
6. Rebecca Romero (18.42)
7. Guin Batten (18.51)
8=. Lisa Eyre and Rowan Carroll (18.57)
10. Ali Barnes (18.57)
Guin, who had stayed in Australia for an extended holiday after the Sydney Olympics, admits to being extremely unfit at these trials, and had only just returned to the UK as her funding required her to take part in them.
1. Jane Hall (20.37)
2=. Helen Casey and Kirsten McLelland Brooks (20.46)
4=. Alison Eastman and Jo Nitsch (20.47)
6. Helen Mangan (20.52)
7. Naomi Ashcroft (21.09)
Assessment (11 February 2001)
This was the third of the winter’s long-distance trials and took place over 5k in Boston, Lincolnshire.
- Frances Houghton/Debbie Flood (2x): 19.38
- Rebecca Romero/Guin Batten (2x): 19.46
- Alison Mowbray/Elise Laverick (2x): 19.59
- Katherine Grainger/Cath Bishop (2x): 20.27
- Alex Beever/Kate MacKenzie (2-): 20.38
- Ali Barnes/Ros Carslake (2x): 20.46
- Alison Trickey/Rowan Carroll (2-): 21:02
- Nicole Scott/Helen Fenhoulet (20): 21.11
Women’s Head (3 March 2001)
No squad crews were entered, so those who wanted to raced for their clubs. Thames, stroked by Guin Batten and containing four other Olympians, won by 25 seconds from the University of London Women’s BC.
Doubles trials (20-22 March 2001)
A doubles matrix was run in Varese to identify the fastest individuals. The aggregate times from four pieces were:
- Frances Houghton: 37.35
- Debbie Flood: 37.40
- Guin Batten: 37.47
- Rebecca Romero: 37.54
- Elise Laverick: 38.02
- Alison Mowbray: 38.07
- Lisa Eyre: 38.15
- Ali Barnes: 38.47
Final trials (10-12 April 2001)
These took place in Hazewinkel because of continued flooding at the National Watersports Centre course Nottingham. they involved time trials, followed by side by side 2k finals.
- Cath Bishop/Katherine Grainger: 7.23
- Rowan Carroll/Alison Trickey: 7.31
- Kate MacKenzie/Alex Beever: 7.32.2
- Helen Fenhoulet/Nicole Scott: 7.32.6
- Kathryn Stewart/Helen Austin: 7:40
- Bev Gough/Ali Sanders: 7.46
- Frances Houghton/Debbie Flood: 7.05
- Rebecca Romero/Elise Laverick: 7.10
- Lisa Eyre/Alison Mowbray: 7.12
- Guin Batten: 7.48
- Sarah Winckless: 7.55
- Tracy Langlands (lightweight): 7.58
- Ros Carslake: 8.12
- Ali Barnes: 8.14
- Katie Greves: 8.19
- Jane Hall/Helen Casey: 7.21
- Sarah Birch/Jo Nitsch: 7.23
- Helen Mangan/Miriam Taylor: 7.30
- Carolyn Jones/Alison Eastman: 7.35
Hackett Thames World Sculling Challenge (23 March 2001)
The women’s event turned into a thrilling race which was eventually won by the German Olympic bronze medallist Katrin Rutschow-Stomporowski, who finished five seconds ahead of Guin Batten. Guin, as Chris Dodd explained in Regatta, “Had come directly from seat racing trials with the British squad in Spain… and stopped to investigate trouble with her fin.” She managed to pip the double Olympic champion Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus to the line by just 0.8 seconds.
FISA, the governing body for world rowing, experimented with an expanded World Cup regatta programme for 2001, adding a fourth event, and including the USA as a venue for the first time. This didn’t prove popular, with both World Cup I in Princeton and World Cup III in Vienna attracting only limited entries. In the case of Princeton, this was fairly clearly because of the event’s location, while the problem for Vienna was that the expanded programme meant the three European regattas were only two weeks apart rather than the usual three.
As Lucerne was the venue for the World Championships this year, it wasn’t used for the final World Cup regatta of the season as it usually is.
World Cup I: World Cup, Princeton (27-28 April 2001)
The GB women’s team didn’t race here although some of the men did.
Essen (19-20 May 2001)
Katherine Grainger and Cath Bishop won the pairs on the second day – the entire (men included) GB team’s only win of the weekend.
Guin Batten, who had been the GB single sculler from 1994-1998, raced again in her single, finishing fourth on the Sunday in a classy field.
Elise Laverick and Rebecca Romero were second in the double sculls, two seconds ahead of Alison Mowbray and Lisa Eyre. The fastest double from final trials, Debbie Flood and Frances Houghton, didn’t compete here.
World Cup II: Seville (14-16 June 2001)
Frances and Debbie were second in the double sculls (9.5 seconds off gold) while the quad of Elise Laverick, Alison Mowbray, Rebecca Romero and Lisa Eyre, who had races as doubles in Essen, also won silver (8.3 seconds behind the winners). A photo of the quad with their medals can be seen here. Cath Bishop and Katherine Grainger came away with the bronze medal in the pairs (6.5 seconds behind the fastest crew) after an effective final sprint brought them from fourth to third in the last 500m.
An eight that combined a bow four – Ali Barnes, Bev Gough, Nicole Scott and Helen Fenhoulet – of squad newcomers with a much more experienced stern four – Kate Mackenzie, Rowan Carroll, Alison Trickey and Alex Beever, who had all been in the GB eight at the Sydney Olympic Games the previous year, as had cox Charlotte Miller) – finished fourth (7.7 seconds off gold).
Guin Batten was sixth in the single sculls (28.7 seconds behind the winner), as were Jo Nitsch and Helen Casey in the lightweight double. Tracy Langlands finished fourth in the lightweight single.
Henley Women’s Regatta (23-24 June 2001)
Most of the squad didn’t compete here, although Guin Batten won the open single sculls, recording ‘easily’ verdicts in all four rounds.
Lightweights Sarah Birch and Jo Nitsch also raced, winning openweight pairs (beating the Zimbabwean national crew by three lengths in the final) in a recently-formed crew in which they would secure selection for the World Championships at final trials the following weekend.
The background to this, Sarah explains, was that Jane Hall had now replaced Jo in the lightweight double, and although Sarah and Jo could have formed a lightweight quad (as they had in 1998 and 2000), it seemed that there was too great a performance gap between them and the next scullers in the ranking, so such a boat was very unlikely to be competitive. As there was no women’s lightweight sweep rowing at the Olympics, not many countries usually entered the lightweight pairs and, if they did, these generally didn’t contain their top crews. Great Britain had medalled in the event every year since it had been introduced in 1995, including winning the gold in 1998 (when Jo Nitsch had been subbed in at the last minute when the crew’s original stroke was injured) and 2000. “So, although we’d really wanted to be in sculling crews, we decided we might as well just try and get the medal that’s clearly up for grabs – if all those other crews could do it, so could we,” she remembers, adding, “But doing the pair had never been a goal. It was just an opportunity.”
Henley Royal Regatta (4-8 July 2001)
The GB quad reached the final of the new women’s quads events, where they lost to a German crew of Olympic gold medallists. This was an excellent result for the new British combination.
In the Princess Royal Challenge Cup for women’s single sculls, Guin Batten beat Tracey Langlands in her first race and then went in to win two more rounds before losing to Ekaterina Karsten in the semi-final.
World Cup III: Vienna (29 June-1 July 2001)
Cath Bishop and Katherine Grainger “dominated the final to win gold” in the pairs, as International Rowing Manager David Tanner described their performance in the Almanack. The double scull of Frances Houghton and Debbie Flood also won, “Sculling past the Olympic bronze medallists from Lithuania, but in the absence of the dominant Germans.”
The same quad that had raced in Essen took silver again but this time finished bow to bow with the leaders (just 0.29 seconds down), and Guin Batten was fourth in the single sculls after going through the 1500m mark in third place before slipping back considerably in the final quarter.
The lightweight double of Jane Hall and Helen Casey took the bronze.
No eight raced.
World Cup IV: Munich (13-15 July 2001)
The pair, double and quad didn’t race here in those boats, but the Cath and Katherine from the pair and Frances and Debbie from the double competed in a new eight along with four of the lineup that had raced in Seville (experienced internationals Alison Trickey and Alex Beever, plus newcomers Nicole Scott and Helen Fenhoulet). Tish Kester coxed. This was described as a “best” eight in the Almanack, and finished fourth out of five, just 2.83 seconds behind the winners.
A four of Ali Barnes, Bev Gough, Rowan Carroll and Kate Mackenzie was seventh. These were the other four members of the Seville eight who had been replaced for this regatta by the double and the pair.
Jane and Helen were sixth in the lightweight double, as was Tracy in the lightweight single. Sarah Birch and Jo Nitch made the most of the opportunity they’d been given to form a lightweight pair by winning their three-boat straight final extremely comfortably.
Guin didn’t race in Munich, but straight after the regatta, she received an official letter from International Manager David Tanner confirming her selection for the World Championships but stating, “We have agreed that you will trial for the W8+ and, if successful, race in that boat. If you are unsuccessful, you will be selected in the W1x.” The outcome was that she went into the eight, replacing Helen Fenhoulet.
Nicole, Alison, Alex and Guin rowed a four in training while the pair and double were out in their small boats. Guin would have liked this crew to have at the World Championships too, and remembers that they achieved better percentage gold medal times than some of the selected crews, but the management decided against this because it was a non-Olympic event, preferring to focus the four’s energy on the eight.
Final team selection
B: Nicole Scott (University of London Women’s BC)
2: Debbie Flood (Leander Club)
3: Alison Trickey (Queen’s Tower BC)
4: Alex Beever (Queen’s Tower BC)
5: Frances Houghton (University of London Women’s BC)
6: Cath Bishop (Marlow RC)
7: Katherine Grainger (St Andrew BC)
S: Guin Batten (Thames RC)
Cox: Tish Kester (University of London Women’s BC)
Coaches: Paul Thompson and Miles Forbes-Thomas
B: Elise Laverick (Thames RC)
2: Lisa Eyre (Marlow RC)
3: Rebecca Romero (Kingston RC)
S: Alison Mowbray (Leander Club)
Coaches: Paul Thompson/Ian South
B: Frances Houghton (University of London Women’s BC)
S: Debbie Flood (Leander Club)
Coach: Mark Banks
B: Cath Bishop (Marlow RC)
S: Katherine Grainger (St Andrew BC)
Coach: Paul Thompson
Lightweight double scull
B: Jane Hall
S: Helen Casey
Coaches: Marty Aitken/Ron Needs
B: Sarah Birch (Kingston RC)
S: Jo Nitch (Leander Club)
Coaches: Maurice Hayes/Marysh Chmiel
Lightweight single scull
Tracy Langlands (Leander Club)
Coaches: Maurice Hayes/Marysh Chmiel
Bev Gough (Queen’s Tower BC)
Helen Fenhoulet (University of London Women’s BC)
Varese training camp
The lightweights and the openweight spare pair recorded the following 2k times at this final pre-Championships training camp on 12 August
Tracy Langlands (Lightweight 1x): 7.48 (95.2% of predicted gold medal speed)
Jane Hall/Helen Casey (Lightweight 2x): 7.10 (94.2%)
Sarah Birch/Jo Nitsch (Lightweight 2-): 7.35 (94.0%)
Helen Fenhoulet/Bev Gough (2-): 7.32 (91.1%)
At the Championships
Lightweight pair (1st out of 6)
With only six entries, the event was a straight final, so the GB crew had to get everything right first time. Unlike in previous years when this situation had occurred, there was no ‘race for lanes’ a couple of days earlier, so the crews were drawn randomly. Fortunately, this put the British crew next to their expected main rivals from the USA, although on one side of the course rather than in the centre of a chevron pattern.
The Americans took a fairly early lead, but Sarah and Jo were never more than a third of a length down. At half way, the GB crew pushed on, but the Americans responded, and the Brits went through the 1,500m mark a few feet down with two other crews in hot pursuit, too. After that, though, they attacked again, taking the lead, and stretching it out to win by 2.37 seconds.
Sarah, who was at bow and therefore doing the calls, remembers, “It was one of those races where you think, ‘I can feel that they can’t do this and I know that we can,’ especially as they’d already raced at openweight [see below], so I shouted suitable things and we just turned it on. It was good fun!”
Notably, this was the first time a British women’s crew had retained a World title (Miriam Taylor and Malindi Myers having won the previous year), making Jo Nitsch the first British woman to win two World Championship gold medals, as she’d also won the event in 1998 with Juliet Machan.
Peter Spurrier’s really lovely photo of the crew after the medal ceremony can be seen here.
At the end of the video below, the commentator describes them as, “Arguably the one ray of sunshine at this regatta for the British women’s squad,” which was a fair assessment.
Why was the US lightweight pair racing openweight too?
Apparently, USRowing had decided not to fund any non-Olympic events (such as women’s lightweight pairs), so the crew decided to try their chances at the US openweight pairs’ trials. Bizarrely, all of the other entries scratched, leaving them to row over and gain selection plus an expenses-paid trip to Europe where they finished 11th in the openweight event. It’s conceivable that they could have won gold at lightweight (for no extra cost to USRowing) had they not doubled up in order to get their expenses paid.
Pair (5th out of 13)
Journalist Rachel Quarrell wrote in live online commentary on her website The Rowing Service, “The first heat goes to GBR, who stroll through it from 750 on, clearly considerably faster than the first time they met the van Daelen sisters (GER) earlier in the summer.” This put them straight through to the semi-final where they finished third.
Katherine described their final in her autobiography, writing, “We raced hard and fast from the start and were in a leading position early on. However, as the race progressed the lack of [winter] training began to show. As other crews attacked, we tried everything to respond but I felt as if my muscles were trying to move through treacle.” They finished 3.34 sec off bronze and 7.39 seconds behind the winners.
International Manager David Tanner, commented later in the Almanack, that they, “Could not produce form when it mattered”
While the result was not what she had hoped for, Katherine remembers in Dreams Really Do Come True, “It was the first boat I had been in that had both the amazing power and strength and yet the lightness of skill and technique to create a thrilling speed and rhythm with ease.”
Cath, however, who had been in the squad for a whole Olympic cycle longer than Katherine, described in her book The Long Win, how she, “Limped on [after Sydney]… but lacked self-belief and felt hugely vulnerable,” in 2001, and after the disappointment of their result at the Worlds, decided to retire from international rowing.
Quad scull (5th out of 9)
The quad inched ahead of the USA in their heat to finish second, but with only one crew qualifying directly for the final, this didn’t stop them having to go to the repechage. Rachel Quarrel commented online, “[The] second rep sees the Danes hauling along like brickies, but it’s smoother Ukraine out in front, GBR several seats back, and it’s two through… The position doesn’t change for most of the course, Britain then edging up on Ukraine and taking over the lead for the end to finish two seconds quicker than the Americans.” David Tanner wrote in the Almanack, that they, “Showed a high standard in winning their repechage, suggesting they could challenge for a bronze medal.” Importantly, this was the first GB women’s quad to qualify for a World Championships final (the 1989 crew had been sixth in a straight final); this was only the seventh time there had been a GB women’s quad at a World Championships in the 27 years since women’s events were first included in the programme in 1974.
The GB crew eventually came fifth in the final, which he described as “creditable”, behind those dominant Germans and also New Zealand, the USA and Australia, whom they hadn’t raced at any of the World Cup events. Rachel Quarrel noted in her commentary that, “Lisa Eyre seems to lose a handle for a couple of strokes before they cross the line but recovers. However, as they were 8.59 seconds off bronze, this wouldn’t have affected their result.
Lightweight double scull (6th out of 14)
Jane and Tracy finished second in their heat which was the fastest of the first round races. This put them directly into the semi-final.
Rachel Quarrell online commentary described how this unfolded; “Poland lead the second semi-final away, rowing in lovely style, with a long flowing technique. Behind them USA, GBR and CAN push along one second apart each. Then CAN and GBR start hitting the buoy-lines together, and it looks as if the Canadian are in mid-push, 100 metres before the second marker point. GBR hold them in check, and inch up a seat by midway. CAN, trying to catch them, ease away from the USA, and the gap moves to clear water as they reach the final few hundred metres, while the Brits start to chase Poland to the line. POL sprint, and power back to a decisive lead, while GBR whip up to 40, making no impression as CAN close them down over the finish.”
Disappointingly, they then finished sixth in the final.
Eight (6th out of 8)
The newly-formed eight got off to an excellent start with what Mike Rosewell described in The Times as “a scintillating win” in their first round heat. He continued, “With just the winners qualifying directly [for the final], Germany, the Munich World Cup regatta winners, led for the first 1,500m but were always under pressure from Britain, now stroked by Guin Batten… Batten had kept her crew at a cruise rate of 36, but then lifted it in stages to 38 so that Britain beat Germany by a canvas.”
A photo of the eight racing in their heat can be seen here.
Bypassing the repechage is generally helpful (although it can provide an opportunity to put right any first-round mistakes), but it was particularly important for the GB crew this year to avoid unnecessary fatigue to those doubling up, even more so as the Romanian, Canadian and Dutch crews also contained rowers who were doubling up.
Unfortunately, like the pair, they, “Could not produce form when it mattered,” as David Tanner wrote in the Almanack, and they finished 4.32 seconds off the bronze medal.
Double scull (7th out of 12)
Frances and Debbie finished second in their head from which only one crew qualified directly to the final.
In their repechage, Rachel Quarrell commentated, “Karsten and Berazniova (BLR) in strong form, leading with ease, while Great Britain and Olympic bronze medallists Lithuania haul along, desperately chasing the second qualifying place. Coming to the final hundred LTU have the edge over GBR, and the two doubles eyeball each other, both rating 39-40, right up to the line. BLR and LTU get it.” Chris Dodd wrote later in Regatta, that they, “Were unfortunate to lose out in an exceptionally harsh draw for their semi-final”.
They then led the B final from early on, holding off multiple challenges by Australia to finish seventh overall.
A photo of the double racing can be seen here.
Lightweight single scull (7th out of 11)
Tracy came fourth in her heat, which put her into the repechage where he needed to come second to qualify for the main final, but finished third. She then led the B final from start to finish, and was , “Able to scull home rating 32, several lengths clear water between herself and Hungarian Monika Remsei,” as Rachel Quarrell described in her online commentary.
Marty Aitken was quoted later in Regatta magazine as saying that the decision to double up crews and mix scullers and sweep rowers in the eight, “May have lost us some results, but we think it was worthwhile because it gave us a lot more information”. The article’s author, Chris Dodd, added, “They are not committed to doubling up, but they know that if there is to be an eight in Athens in 2004, doubling up will be required,” although he doesn’t specify why this would be necessary.
Guin reflects on the eight, “We struggled a bit in training trying to get it fluid enough. I don’t think we did enough low rate work because it was late-formed so we did lots and lots of races and not enough steady state.” She adds, it was just a little bit disjointed with the doubling up. We could be good some days but not on others, so we had a really good heat and then didn’t go so well in the final.”
World Rowing Junior Championships
These took place from 8-11 August 2001 at Duisburg.
Quad (6th out of 12)
B: Elizabeth Tatman (Dame Alice Harpur School BC)
2: Joanna Cook (Lady Eleanor Holles School BC)*
3: Alice Bray (Lady Eleanor Holles School)**
S: Harriet Cogger (Gloucester RC)*
Coach: Andrew Green
A photo of the quad racing can be seen here.
* Indicates a previous participation at the World Rowing Junior Championships.
Four (6th out of 9)
B: Elizabeth Tinley (Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School BC)
2: Natasha Page (Gloucester RC)
3: Jessica Eddie (Durham ARC)
S: Sian Murray (Northwich RC)
Coach: Sharon Noble
A photo of the four racing can be seen here.
International Manager David Tanner wrote in the Almanack, “Our women’s four and quad rowed very well to reach their finals, and their sixth placings were good results.”
The World Under-23 Regatta
Formerly known as the Nations Cup, this took place at Ottensheim in Austria from 27-29 July 2001.
Coxless four (5th out of 7)
B: Katie Greves (Headington School BC)
2: Helen Austin (University of London Women’s BC)*
3: Kathryn Stewart (University of London Women’s BC)
S: Ros Carslake (Newcastle University BC)*
Coach: Pete Somerville
Katie had been a GB Junior from 1999-2000, as had Kathryn from 1997-1998. Ros had been a GB Junior in 1997 too.
* Indicates a previous participation at the Nations Cup.
Lightweight singe scull (3rd out of 15)
Alison Eastman (Imperial College BC)
Coach: Ian Roots
Writing in the Almanack, International Manager David Tanner commented, “To win a medal in her first season was… excellent. She raced with great maturity to row into bronze position in the last 250 metres and set a standard for other rowing lightweight women to emulate.”
The photo at the top of this page, which is from Sarah Ockendon’s personal collection, shows the GB lightweight pair of Jo Nitsch and Sarah Birch (centre) about to be presented with their gold medals at the 2001 World Rowing Championships.
© Helena Smalman-Smith, 2022.