Zak Lee-Green announces his retirement from rowing
Zak Lee-Green has announced his retirement after an outstanding decade representing Great Britain
Zak first competed for Great Britain at the 2010 World Rowing U23 Championships, where he won a bronze medal as part of the lightweight men’s quad, before making his senior team debut in 2014 at World Rowing Cup II. He describes his career highlight as the 2017 season which culminated in a silver medal at the World Championships for the GB lightweight men’s quad: “The whole project in 2017 was a lot of fun. It was always on wheels and just kept going. I’ll look back on that as one of my favourites.”
It’s not just the big competitions that stand out to him, though: “I’ve loved the day-to-day grind of training. When you’re up in the mountains of Sierra Nevada in the second week and you have nothing left in the tank, you’re just dragging yourself through it; you look back on that and think ‘it’s amazing we managed to complete that’.
“I’ve had a great time; training all day, going to amazing places and competing alongside some of the best athletes in the world of rowing. It’s been unbelievable really, I can’t put it into words. Hopefully I’ll be able to use those experiences in the future and give something back to the sport as well.”
He says he knew the time was right for him to step away from the squad: “I had a bit of a cry in the car on the way home but then knew I’d made the right decision when I felt good the next day.
“The defining moment is when you give Maurice (Hayes), our resource manager, your key fob for the gate and get your £10 back. When I’d done that I knew it was all finished.”
Zak first took up rowing after his teacher, Sian Elin Griffiths, took some of the students to the nearby Llandaff Rowing Club to learn to row. He enjoyed it so much that he gave up swimming, switched to rowing and was quickly selected for the Welsh squad, before joining the World Class Start programme at Agecroft RC while studying at the University of Manchester.
Zak is a qualified dentist, famously having a host of the GB Rowing Team along to his practice on Wednesday afternoons. He now plans to pursue that career full-time: “Leaving rowing was always going to be difficult but having dentistry to fall back on makes it a bit easier. It’s a shock going from spending your days training with your friends to working 8.00 am to 6.00 pm in a real job but I feel very ready to move on.”
He will remain an avid supporter of the GB Rowing Team, saying: “I’ll definitely be watching the guys in Tokyo – some of my friends in the Team I’ve been rowing with for almost a decade and I can’t wait to see how they get on. I wish them the best of luck.”
GB Rowing Team lightweight coach Hamish Burrell, who has coached Zak since his university days, said: “Since coaching Zak at the Agecroft World Class Start scheme I have been continually impressed with his dedication and quick intellect.
“From working hard at his Welsh language secondary school to gain entry to the University of Manchester, to winning U23 bronze and achieving senior team selection while completing his challenging 5 year dentistry course on schedule, he has had remarkable achievements throughout his rowing and academic career. It was fantastic to see Zak win a senior silver medal in the lightweight men’s quad in Sarasota 2017, and compete in the Olympic class lightweight men’s double while working part-time as a dentist over the past two years.
“It has been a pleasure to watch his journey and I know he will have every success in the future.”