Athlete in the Spotlight: Tina Stiller
GB Rowing Team news caught up recently with Tina Stiller in the latest of our series of spotlight features on squad members. We’ll be adding more regularly so look out for future editions. Tweet us via @GBRowingTeam if there is an athlete you would like to see featured.
Education: St Peter’s School, University of Nottingham
Began rowing in: 2003
Clubs: St Peter’s School Boat Club, Nottingham RC, Leander Club, Tees Rowing Club
Original coach(es): Arthur Ellis–Davies, Ade Roberts, Jane Hall, James Harris
Patience is paying off for Tina Stiller, who has overcome a long-term injury to establish herself in the women’s squad during the past two seasons.
She first got into the sport in 2003, thanks to some sibling rivalry with her brother, and demonstrated her potential by winning medals at three successive U23 World Championships.
Silver and bronze in the women’s quad at the 2006 and 2007 events were followed by a second-placed finish in the single scull in 2008 – a result which helped Tina earn a reserve place in the GB Rowing Team squad for the Beijing Olympic Games.
She recovered from illness to help the women’s eight to fifth place at the 2009 World Championships in Poznan, Poland but Tina’s progress was put on hold by an injury which ruled her out for two years and dashed her hopes of competing at London 2012.
However, since returning to full fitness, Tina has been a mainstay in the women’s quad for the past two years.
Ahead of the GB Rowing Team Senior Trials from April 17-19, we caught up with Tina to chat about all things rowing-related as well as life outside the sport.
GBRT: How and why did you first start rowing?
TS: My brother Matthew started first. I used to spend most weekends watching him, which eventually got a bit boring so I decided to give it a go myself. I think there was a bit of sibling rivalry there – anything he could do, I could definitely do better! I was 16 when I first started but I did a lot of sports before that, I went to a very sporty school where we could pretty much do everything.
GBRT: What has been your biggest success and your biggest disappointment in the sport so far?
TS: I think probably my biggest success was winning silver in the single at the U23 World Championships in 2008 but ironically that is probably my biggest disappointment as well because I really thought I could win gold. I got injured after that and had the next two years out, which was difficult.
GBRT: What are some of your most memorable moments in your career so far?
TS: The whole experience of going to Beijing and being involved in the Olympics. I was a reserve and I wasn’t quite prepared for how emotional it would be, for everyone involved. There were some really big highs but a big low with the women’s quad.
GBRT: What aspirations do you have within the sport?
TS: It’s the same as everyone – an Olympic medal. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t.
GBRT: Who is your best friend within the rowing set-up and why?
TS: I don’t think I could pick out just one person, and I’m not just trying to be diplomatic. There are different people I would go to for different things. Certain people I will go to for emotional support, others I will go to for technical advice. We are all quite close as a team on the whole.
GBRT: Who do you look up to?
TS: It’s been really nice to have Katherine Grainger back. She is a very good role model, very humble about what she has done and has a really good approach to training. It’s been nice to spend time with her.
GBRT: What hobbies and hidden talents do you have?
TS: I love cooking and baking. We eat a lot, so spend a lot of time doing that. I love Bake Off, one of the best programmes. I’m really into films as well and I try to stay active through walking and yoga. I really got into yoga during my two years off with injury and it really helped me.
GBRT: What are some of your favourite bands?
TS: I wouldn’t say I have a favourite band but my favourite artist has to be Beyonce. I also have a bit of a guilty pleasure about Taylor Swift at the moment. If I had to go with a band, my all-time favourite one would be Foo Fighters – who always seem to be touring when we’re away on camp.
GBRT: Favourite books?
TS: Goodnight Mr Tom is my all-time favourite but I really enjoyed The Book Thief as well and I’ve just recently read a good one called The Farm, I’m really into my crime thrillers.
GBRT: Favourite films and TV shows?
TS: It’s hard to pick a favourite film because it all depends what mood I’m in but my favourite TV show is easy – House of Cards. We get through so many box sets on camp, Netflix has been a big help.
GBRT: What qualifications and job aspirations do you have outside of rowing?
TS: I’ve got an undergraduate degree in nutrition and biochemistry but I’d like to apply for an MBA, take a bit of a different tack. Ideally I’d like to get into property but there are a lot of different ways I can go after rowing so I’ll see.