‘I had pictures of Reed, Triggs Hodge and Pinsent on my wall – it’s very strange to now be in the four’

Matt Rossiter’s whirlwind year continues with his first senior World Rowing Championships, and he’s in the top boat for Sarasota-Bradenton


Matt Rossiter at World Cup III in Lucerne in 2017 - Naomi Baker

Six years on from an injury that threatened to end his promising rowing career, Matt Rossiter is about to compete in his first senior World Rowing Championships off the back of a whirlwind year that has seen him win a seat in Jurgen Grobler’s top boat.

A junior world champion, double world U23 medallist and triple Youth Olympic Games winner – Rossiter looked to be on course for a place on the senior team when a back injury forced him to hang up his oar for two years in 2011.

Returning to rowing with the University of London and subsequently Leander Club, the Newbury athlete won a place on the GB Rowing Team at the start of the 2020 Olympiad and has gone on to add two World Cup golds and a silver, and a Henley Royal Regatta title to his name.

Having started the year in the pair, winning gold with Jacob Dawson at the first World Cup in Belgrade, Rossiter moved into the bow seat of the four for the second round in Poznan.

“I’ve rowed since I was a kid and sadly enough I had pictures of Pete Reed, [Andrew Triggs] Hodge and Matthew Pinsent on my wall, cut out from the rowing magazine. It’s very strange to now be in that boat,” he said.

“I’m only 6’2 so I’m one of the shorter ones on the whole team. I hope to think in the bow seat I bring a bit of flow and finesse to the boat. I also try to be quite vocal – Moe’s doing the main calls but still pulling on the oar very hard, so I try to be a positive influence and make it run as smoothly as possible.

“Will and Mat are quite quiet in the boat – Will, at stroke, sets the rhythm and consistency, while Mat backs him up.

“Moe is one of the best rowers in the world, so it’s an amazing experience to be behind him. He’s also so enormous that I can hardly see a thing. He steers the boat and calls the shots – he tells us what to do and we do it basically.”

“Moe tells us what to do and we do it basically”

Rossiter took up rowing as a 14-year-old, but he was seven when he first identified the sport as something he could potentially be good at. The Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, where Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent won GB’s only gold medal, set the ball rolling.

“I remember as a kid I was ok at quite a few sports – rugby, cricket, football, tennis – and I wished that I was good at one sport rather than ok at a lot of them,” he said.

“I remember when I was about seven after the Atlanta Olympics and I had a notebook where I wrote down all the Olympic sports and ticked the ones that I thought I could have a go at. If I remember correctly the top ones were cycling, decathlon and rowing.”

Rossiter stuck with rowing and his perseverance through his injury troubles looks to have paid off, with the men’s four set to challenge for the medals out in Sarasota-Bradenton next week.

“At Henley, in the final, we had a good start against the Italians and then at Lucerne we had a decent start but our mid-race pace was good. So I think it’s all there for us to put together a really good race and we just have to tie it all together on the day.

“Looking back it has been a really enjoyable year, with some really good wins and hope we find our top form again in Florida.”

The 2017 World Rowing Championships run from 24 September – 1 October in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida. You can follow all of the action on British Rowing’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels, as well as watching live finals on the BBC on Saturday, 30 September and Sunday, 1 October.