Meet the Team: Vwairé Obukohwo
World and British record holder Vwairé Obukohwo is in the hot seat this week
World Class Start rower Vwairé Obukohwo has been smashing records since she joined the sport: she represented Great Britain at the inaugural World Urban Games in September, finishing third and won the U23 women’s 2km event at December’s Mizuno British Rowing Indoor Championships.
Vwairé holds an age group world record in the 1 minute category (344m) and FOUR British age group records, including one set only last week in the 6000m (a blistering 21:56.3). We caught up with the talented 18-year-old to find out more about her.
What do you love most about rowing?
I really enjoy the variety the sport has, every aspect of rowing is so different which helps me build on so many skills and never get bored. Most of the time, I like being in my single because I’m able to drift off and not worry about anything too much, but being in a crew boat is exhilarating and very rewarding when working together.
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How did you first start rowing?
I started at the rowing club in my sixth form in year 12, mostly just as fitness and something to talk about in my personal statement. We would practice twice a week so it was really fun and a nice hobby to keep me occupied.
How did you join the World Class Start pathway?
My sixth form rowing club took me to NJIRC (National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships) and the World Class Start booth was there recruiting tall people so I put my name down to get tested.
What’s the best thing about being part of World Class Start?
I love the atmosphere that the World Class Start crew create. Athletes and coaches are so dedicated to receiving the best quality output possible. It’s this dedication that allows every individual to really see their full potential and live up to it. I really enjoy how even in very high stress times (like before a competition/ test) everyone is able to stay calm and make it very enjoyable. The balance between hard work and fun is definitely the best part of the World Class Start programme.
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What’s the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced in rowing is having to perform at BRIC 2019 (British Rowing Indoor Championships). I was easing back into training after getting over post viral fatigue and my performance fluctuated greatly over the weeks, this made me very uncertain about wether I’d be able to do well or not, and definitely had a big toll on my mental drive. But with the help of my coach I was able to still enjoy the time and not stress too much despite being very nervous, this guidance helped me manage myself well and perform to the best of my ability considering the set backs.
What are your rowing highlights?
Performing at the World Urban Games 2019 was so surreal. It was my first competition not being a junior and competing internationally. In addition to that. I was competing against the female 2k world record holder as well as other renowned Olympic Rowers. I was definitely feeling like the underdog but I was able to place 3rd whilst having lots of fun too.
What advice do you wish you could give your younger self?
Even the greatest people in the world only have 24 hours in a day, so it’s important to make the most out of everyday.
How are you finding training in lockdown?
It’s nice to be on the erg and focus on learning new skills beyond rowing too. I’m definitely missing the ambiance of regatta season and the blissfulness of a paddle on the river but I’ve managed to keep myself busy.
Other than training, how else have you been spending your time during lockdown?
I recently started painting, I’ve painted small posters for all my friends to give to them eventually. I also have enjoyed learning new skills like doing a handstand which has been mildly less successful. Nonetheless, just spending time with my family and using this time to do things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to around a full day of training.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a rower?
I’d probably do athletics. At the moment, I’m very far from an athletics athlete but I love watching the jumps and throws so much, it’s a talent I’d love to have.