Dreaming of Rio 2016

Southborough, Kent rowing star Edward Couldwell is hungry to take his sculling to the next level after representing Great Britain for the first time at the World U23 Championships in Lithuania last weekend, writes Oliver Porritt in the Kent & Sussex Courier.

Great Britain’s under-23 men’s quadruple sculls. Couldwell is rowing at ‘3’, second from the right.

Couldwell, 20, was part of the quadruple scull which finished fifth in the B final of a regatta packed full of crews looking to be part of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The former St Andrews, Beechwood and Tunbridge Wells Grammar School pupil was disappointed not to make the A final, but relished the opportunity to test himself in competition.

“It was a brilliant experience but it was a little disappointing in the end to under-perform,” he said. “The calibre of rowers at this level is not something I had come up against before.

“But coming out to the water wearing a GB vest was a fantastic feeling and that first heat was the perfect way to start the event.”

The British crew finished that race second behind Australia to qualify for the semi-finals with ease, and Couldwell revelled in the atmosphere.

He said: “I came off the water so excited on that first day and it was a feeling like nothing I’ve experienced before. When we started six weeks ago our starts were pretty slow but we’d worked on that and we went out clear in the first heat before Australia came back at us.

“After the heats we looked at all the qualifiers and there were no more than five seconds separating all the crews – it was that close.”

The top three from each semi-final qualified for the A final, but the British quartet came fifth over the 2000m course, just 3.5 seconds behind the Czech boat in third.

This result put them into the B final, though illness struck down one of their crew before the race, meaning they could only finish fifth.

Couldwell said: “The margin for error is so small at this level and if you are slightly off you have no chance. On the last day one of the guys was really suffering and in the second half of the B final we could feel the boat get heavy.

“We lost a little composure as we were coming under increasing pressure, though it was a real learning curve. But we are a really young crew. I still have another year as an U23 and two of the others have a couple of years left.

“So we have a very realistic chance of developing this boat and will be very strong when we come back next year.”

2016 Games a realistic target for talented rower

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.

Edward Couldwell – aiming for the Rio Games

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.

Said Couldwell:

“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.

He adds:

“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.”

Our next generation of Olympians needs your help

My colleagues at Oxford Brookes University Boat Club are trying to raise £1 million to extend their boathouse on the River Thames. For Oxford Brookes to maintain its position as one of the five feeder squads to the British team, the Cholsey boathouse near Wallingford must be modified to meet the ever-growing training demands.

Steve Williams OBE was at OBUBC in the late 1990s. Rowed the M2- with Fred Scarlett in 1998. Won M4+ gold in 2000. Steve won five M4- golds: Three at worlds and two at the Olympics (2004 and 2008)


OBUBC has produced some of the best rowers in the world and has the strongest undergraduate rowing squad in the country.

By backing the Boathouse Campaign you have the chance to push Great Britain towards even more glory in London 2012, and add to Oxford Brookes’ tally of Olympic gold medals won by Ben Hunt-Davis, Fred Scarlett and Rowley Douglas at Sydney, and Steve Williams at Athens and Beijing.

The team’s year-on-year success under Coaching Director Richard Spratley means more room is needed to store world-class boats and build land-based training facilities. Expanding the boathouse will bring a number of vital facilities under one roof, including a gym housing rowing machines as well as warm-up and cool down areas required by world-class performers.

Oxford Brookes’ rowers train for up to 25 hours a week. They currently divide their schedule between river-based training and a land-based rowing suite in the University’s Centre for Sport 14 miles away. The new building features larger changing rooms for the club’s male and female rowers. The squad has 50 elite athletes but changing facilities for just 12 men and six women. OBUBC is therefore planning to build the boathouse by this Christmas to give its rowers as much use of the new facilities as possible before London 2012.

How the new boathouse will look

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