The life of a single sculler: Vicky Thornley reflects on her craft ahead of her World Rowing Championships final

Vicky Thornley will be racing in the final of the World Rowing Championships, on Sunday, 1 October at 3.57pm (BST)


Vicky Thornley winning her semi-final at the World Rowing Championships, Florida (Naomi Baker)

There is a loneliness to the single sculler, whether it’s out on the water clocking up the miles each day in training or racing in pursuit of individual goals without teammates in the boat to help push you to the line.

At least for Britain’s two single scullers out at the 2017 Rowing World Championships they have company in each other and common ground that they have both made it through to the A finals.

Vicky Thornley and Tom Barras’ finals will be half an hour apart from 3.57pm today and their efforts in Sarasota-Bradenton this week have helped demonstrate the strong position GB sculling’s programme is in so early on in the Olympiad.

In addition to the single sculls finals, both men’s and women’s quads won medals yesterday and Thornley knows the strong season she has had stands her in good stead to try to follow suit at the Nathan Benderson Park on Sunday.

“The final is going to be tight and challenges will come from all five of the others but it’s important to row my own race in the first half and then assessing what I need to do given those around me,” said the 28-year-old, who won both her heat and semi-final this week.

“I’m sure the other girls see me as a threat because we’re all threats to each other.

“What I’ve learnt this year is that what you expect to happen in a singles race is rarely how it pans out so it’s important not to get too rattled by that and row your own race for the majority of it.

“Here in Florida it’s been a confidence booster to have been in different positions in the two races and still come through to win. It shows I’m racing well and tactically I’m doing the right thing.”

>>> All you need to know about the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota-Bradenton

Just over a year ago Thornley, a graduate of World Class Start, was making her Olympic debut at Rio 2016 and was sat in the double with Dame Katherine Grainger as the two scullers won silver.

And Thornely recognises the impact that final race has had on her as well as the chance to learn from her five-time Olympic medallist former teammate. Thornley has since swapped the double for the single and it’s a decision which is looking a good one after two World Cup silvers and European gold this season tees her up nicely for Sunday’s World Rowing Championship final.

“A lot of my confidence has come from Rio and how we executed that race to pull the best out of myself in the final,” added Thornley.

“That was the first time I’ve really done that and a lot of that comes from racing with Katherine, using that experience of Olympic finals.

“That’s helped me a lot this year going from the double into the single. It’s great to have the trust and knowledge that I can deliver on the big stage. Sometimes it’s one thing thinking you can and it’s another knowing it.”


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 Red Button on Sunday, 1 October from 3.15pm.