Meet the Team: Hattie Taylor

In the first of our new Meet the Team series, we caught up with Hattie Taylor to talk early mornings, career highlights and Tokyo 2021

Hattie Taylor. Credit Nick Middleton

Syracuse University graduate Hattie Taylor started her GB career in the U23 squad, where she won World U23 bronze with the women’s eight. Since joining the senior squad in 2017 she has won medals at World Cups and European Championships in the pair and the eight. Here she tells us what she loves about rowing and how she’s been spending her time in lockdown.

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What do you love most about rowing?

I’m sure I’m supposed to answer something along the lines of when all the hard work comes together to get a good result, but honestly it’s just the days when I’m one of the first on the water, there’s no wind so the water is flat, the sun is still coming up and it’s really peaceful. Knowing that I’m on the water before most people are out of the front door reminds me how lucky I am that I get to witness this. It usually comes crashing down the next day when it’s storming and blowing 30mph gusts, but those good days remind me why I love the sport.

When did you first start rowing?

I started at an Easter Holiday taster course in Year 7 at my school, Sir William Perkins’. My parents had rowed a little throughout university, so naturally wanted me to give it a go too. I started that holiday and never stopped, and here I am 14 years later!

How did you get into rowing for GB?

My Syracuse University coach actually got into contact with Shep [Peter Sheppard] in my second year of University, after I pulled a semi-decent 2k. Trialling for the U23 GB Team had always been in the back of my mind but I wasn’t sure how I would go about it after I decided to go to University in the US. I did a couple of years of U23 racing and then decided the Senior team was something I wanted to try and go for. I came back to join the Senior team after I graduated in 2017.

What’s the best thing about being part of the GB team?

The people. The coaches, all of the wonderful support staff and my teammates make it easy to get up early each morning to train really hard.

 

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What’s the biggest challenge?

Being in the midst of winter training, surrounded by testing weeks, with racing or warm weather on the horizon.. I am usually good at being positive and seeing the bigger picture, but realistically it’s hard to feel positive every day. My University coach would always say, ‘it’s fun going fast’, and I always try and remember that the hard work you put in during those winter months is what will make you fast in the summer, and that’s when it’s most fun.

What are your career highlights?

Qualifying the women’s eight for the Olympics last summer at the World Championships in Linz. That result was the culmination of a lot of hard work all year and on the summer work camps, and although we may not have been totally pleased with the overall result, we did what needed to be done and qualified the boat. Another highlight was at the second World Cup in 2018, I was racing in the pair that season with Rowan McKellar (also my housemate) That was our first international race in the pair together and we left with a Bronze medal, so that was a really special race for me.

 

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What advice do you wish you could give your younger self?

Oh so many things, but most importantly is that there are barely any athletes I know who have had a completely smooth ride. Don’t be disheartened if things aren’t going your way, it’s normal to have ups and downs, it’s important how you react and come back from negative experience. Also work hard but try and have fun with it!

How did you react to the Olympic postponement?

It was something I’d been almost expecting for about a week before it was officially announced, so it wasn’t a huge shock announcement for me. Even though it’s really disappointing that something everyone had worked so hard for for a number of years had to be pushed back another year, it was definitely the right decision in terms of the ability of athletes to train and race and the health and safety aspect of it. What’s going on in the world right now is bigger than us being able to race at the Olympics. I would rather compete in 2021 knowing that all the teams in the world were able to train and compete on a level playing field, and everyone and their families were safe and healthy.

How are you finding training in lockdown?

I enjoy training so much because of the group of people I get to do it with, so to go from that to getting through it alone was quite a challenge at the beginning. We’ve been allowed a small amount of flexibility with the program, so I’ve been enjoying running and cycling (alone, and only once a day, of course) to mix things up a little. I’ve got a routine now that I am trying to firmly stick to, and making my days more structured which is making things easier.

Other than training, how else have you been spending your time during lockdown?

Cooking and baking! It seems like everyone on social media has been doing the same.. I’m thoroughly enjoying having a little more time to spend doing things I can’t normally do. Also getting on top of general life admin is making me feel productive!

 

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What would you be doing if you weren’t a rower?

My undergrad degree is in Political Science, and I was going to start a law conversion course after Tokyo 2020, so ideally I’d be a few steps ahead of where I am now and be practicing law. I studied in the US as well so if I hadn’t come back to row after I’d graduated, I think I would probably still be there.

Follow Hattie on Instagram @hattietay.

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