Frances Houghton

 Frances Houghton

At the World Rowing Championships in Chungju Frances raced with Vicki Meyer-Laker in the women's double scull finishing 4th overall.

During the 2013 World Cup Season, Frances raced in the women's double scull and the women's eight in Sydney finishing 3rd and 4th respectively. For the 2nd and 3rd Regattas she raced in the women's double scull with Vicki Meyer-Laker winning Gold at Eton Dorney and finishing 5th in Lucerne.

At the 2013 GB Rowing Team Senior & U23 Trials held on 20/21 April at Caversham, Frances came 2nd in the women's single scull.

At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Frances raced in the women's quadruple scull with Melanie Wilson, Debbie Flood and Beth Rodford, finishing 6th.

During the 2012 World Cup season, Frances raced in the women's quadruple scull. The crew won a bronze medal in Belgrade, finished 5th in Belgrade and won bronze again in Munich.

Frances raced in the single scull at  the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia, finishing 10th.

In challenging conditions on New Zealand's Lake Karapiro, Frances and her crewmates Debbie Flood, Beth Rodford and Annabel Vernon in the women's quadruple scull, made up a first-half deficit in their 2010 World Rowing Championships' final to overhaul reigning champions, the Ukraine, and win a superb gold medal in 7:12.78.  A particularly satisfying result for Frances who underwent hip surgery earlier in the year.

Frances started rowing at the Dragon School in Oxford, aged 11, before moving on to Kings School, Canterbury.  She competed in her first World Rowing Junior Championships in 1996 at the age of 15, finishing 4th in the quadruple scull.  She rowed in a double with Debbie Flood in 1998, winning bronze at the World Rowing Junior championships.  This was the first ever Junior women's sculling medal for GB.  

Frances is also accomplished on the rowing ergometer, being the first Junior girl to break both the 7 minute and 6 minute 50 seconds barriers, and in November 1998 she won the junior title at the British Indoor Rowing Championships, where she set a new junior British record.  She then travelled to Boston, USA, in February 1999 and returned as World Junior Indoor Rowing Champion.

That year she made an impressive Under 23 debut, winning gold with Debbie Flood at the World Rowing U23 Championships in Hamburg, again the first sculling medal of its kind for GB at this level.

Frances represented GB at the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, finishing ninth in the double scull with Sarah Winckless.

She took a break from her studies at King's College, London in order to prepare for the Sydney Olympics but then resumed full time education, graduating in 2003.

At the World Rowing Championships in 2001 in Lucerne she sculled in the double with her former partner Debbie Flood finishing 7th.   As part of her studies, Frances had spent that year living and training in Seville so the 2002 World Rowing Championships host city was well known to her.  Here she came 4th.

In 2003 Frances raced in the quadruple scull, narrowly missing a medal at the World Rowing Championships having finished in 4th place, however this result secured a qualifying place for the Athens Olympics.

She won a superb Olympic silver medal in the quad in Athens 2004 after a great season in which the crew won the World Cups in Poznan and Lucerne – where they were the first British women's quad to beat the Germans in this event.  They qualified directly for the Olympic final by winning their heat in the event's second fastest ever recorded time, and although they could not hold the fast–starting Germans, they came through the field to win an emphatic silver with great credit.

Between 2000 and 2004 Frances was unbeaten at the GB Rowing Senior Trials.  She went on to race in the women's quadruple scull all season in 2005, winning two World Cup golds at Eton and Munich, a World Cup silver in Lucerne and capped a superb 2005 with World Rowing Championships gold in Japan in September.

The 2006 World Cup Series brought more success with gold at Poznan, Munich and Lucerne.  At the 2006 World Rowing Championships the women's quadruple scull fought an intense battle with Russia and were just beaten to the line in the dying metres of the race to take silver.  In a strange twist of fate, it emerged in early 2007 that their Russian conquerors had failed a drugs test back in July, before the World Championship regatta, and were retrospectively disqualified.  The British women's quartet was therefore restored as rightful World Champions once more.

In 2007 she medalled at each of the World Cups and won the overall quad title for the series, then became World Champion for the third time in the quad at the World Championships in Munich.

She raced in the quad in the 2008 World Cup series, finishing 1st in Munich and taking bronze in Lucerne.

Frances was selected in the women's quadruple scull for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games where she won her second Olympic silver medal.  The GB boat has led the race until the final 200 metres when they were agonizingly overhauled by China.

After Beijing Frances contemplated hanging up her sculls for good, but after a year out during which she followed her passion for cookery to Ireland, Italy and beyond, and took the opportunity to spend quality time with friends and crewmates out of the boat, she realised that she still wanted another chance to race for a medal.

Frances is now the longest serving member of the British Rowing Team, having first made the Junior team in 1995.

Since then she has gained a degree in Spanish and found a great love of food and cooking.  Influenced by her time living in Seville, she spent 3 months during her year out from rowing (2008-9) training to be a professional cook at Ballymaloe Cookery School.  She then went on to work both as a private cook for a family and at the popular London restaurant, Ottolenghi.  Since returning to rowing she has designed a cookery course for athletes who ‘can’t cook, won’t cook’.

Frances is an avid radio listener, particularly Radio 5 Live, which helped her keep in touch with sport whilst recovering from her hip operation last year.

She loves to escape to North Cornwall whenever she can.

Frances is Lottery Funded through UK Sport.

Current Address: Henley-on-Thames
Home Town: Oxford
Region(s): Oxfordshire
Personal information
Date of Birth: 19th September 1980
Height: 193cm
Education: Dragon School – Oxford, Kings School – Canterbury, King's College – London
Rowing information
Club: Leander Club
Boat: Women's Squad
Role: Rower

Paul Thompson

Learnt to Row: Dragon School, Oxford
Original Club(s):
GB Competitive Record
This Season's Results

Olympic Games
2012 6th W4x
2008  Silver  W4x 
2004 Silver W4x 
2000 9th W2x
World Rowing Championships
2013 4th W2x
2011 10th W1x
2010 Gold W4x
2007 Gold W4x
2006 Gold W4x
2005 Gold W4x
2003 4th W4x 
2002 4th W2x
2001 7th W2x
2001 6th W8+
World Rowing U23 Championships
1999 Gold W2x
World Rowing Junior Championships
1998 Bronze W2x
1997 4th W2-
1996 4th W4x
GB Rowing Senior Trials
2013 2nd W1x
2012 4th W1x
2000 - 2003 1st W1x