Southborough, Kent’s Edward Couldwell is on course for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio after being selected to row for Great Britain at the World U23 Championships in Trakai, Lithuania, writes Oliver Porritt in the Kent & Sussex Courier.
The former St Andrews, Beechwood and Tunbridge Wells Grammar School pupil started rowing at Bewl Bridge Rowing Club when he was 13, and is representing his country for the first time in the quadruple sculls. Couldwell, 20, was looking forward to getting out on the water for the first heats and is glad to have been chosen for his first international regatta.
“When you are in a GB squad you can’t take anything for granted. And just because we were in the boat for the last few months didn’t mean we would still make the World Championships.
“You can never assume you’ve made it, so when I got confirmation the first feeling was relief followed by a real satisfaction that I had got there. It means all the hard work has paid off and having the GB vest in your hand means you have something tangible to show for your effort.
“Getting the vest was the moment you realise that this is actually happening and it is nice to know people know you are representing your country.”
Couldwell, who continued to hone his rowing skills at Loughborough University, had to go through a gruelling series of trials over the last year to make the squad.
“We had trials in October, December and February before the final tests in April where we were put into teams of two and raced against each other. The selectors saw the potential of a team consisting of me and the other three guys, and since the last week in May we have been training and racing full time.
“We raced at Dorney Lake before a big regatta in Amsterdam where we won both days of competition in our quad. Our final event in preparation was the Henley Royal Regatta where crews race one-on-one with the final two boats going head-to-head.
“We got to the final (The Prince of Wales Challenge Cup) where we were up against a crew from the Leander Club, which wasn’t limited to Under 23s. They had been together for over a year and we had lost by some distance to them a few months earlier. This time we were ahead all the way until some issues on our boat saw them pip us right at the finish, which was a real shame.”
Great Britain traditionally struggles in the sculling discipline, where each competitor has two oars, but Couldwell is hopeful of getting through to the last day and also has the Olympics in his sights:
“No British quad has made the ‘A’ final since about 2008. So my main aim is to get to the ‘A’ final as one of the top seven boats and then see what we can do from there.
“But as an athlete, and especially as a rower, everything is geared towards the Olympics. Being part of the U23 set-up is seen as a stepping stone to greater things and getting to the Olympics has been a dream of mine since I took up the sport.
“Rio 2016 is my ultimate aim and it is a long way away at the moment, but to be part of it would be something special.”