British Rowing reveals new Olympic coaching lineup

Four of British Rowing’s most experienced coaches are set to take on new Lead Olympic Coach roles through to Tokyo 2020

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Tuesday 22 December 2020

British Rowing has today announced a new look senior coaching team to lead the GB Rowing Team through to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The new coaching structure sees four of British Rowing’s most experienced coaches take on new ‘lead Olympic coach’ roles in line with British Rowing’s new Selection Policy for the GB Rowing Team (GBRT) announced on 16 December.

Director of Performance Brendan Purcell said: “I am very pleased to announce this new coaching structure to take us through to Tokyo. It recognises the knowledge and vast experience of our coaching and senior leadership team at the national training centre, Caversham and gives our lead coaches increased levels of autonomy.

“Across the coaching and leadership team we have over 40 combined Olympic and Paralympic Games under our belts stretching back to Los Angeles 1984. There’s a huge wealth of knowledge and experience within the  high performance programme to support our athletes in delivering incredible performances in 2021.”

Since the departure of Jürgen Grobler as chief coach for the men’s and women’s squads, the GBRT leadership team has worked through the best way to utilise the coaching expertise of British Rowing’s world-class coaches and enhance their coaching experience.

Following an internal interview process, the refreshed structure will see four lead coaches take charge of the separate Olympic squads through to Tokyo: men’s sweep, men’s sculling, women’s sweep and women’s sculling.

As a result, day-to-day decisions will be taken by the respective lead coaches, who will also be core members of new ‘selection groups’ responsible for crew selection.

There is no change for the Paralympic programme, with Tom Dyson continuing to lead the team.

Lead Olympic Coaches

Men’s sweep: Steve Trapmore MBE

Olympic gold medallist at Sydney 2000, Steve Trapmore MBE takes on the role of lead coach for the Olympic men’s sweep programme. Steve spent ten years leading high performance rowing programmes as Head Coach of Imperial College Boat Club and Chief Coach of Cambridge University Boat Club before joining the GB Rowing Team in 2018.

Men’s sculling: Paul Stannard

A former World Class Start coach, Paul won the UK Coaching Talent Development Coach of the Year and Leaders in Sport Nick Broad award for Talent Development for his work identifying and developing Heather Stanning and Helen Glover, who went on to become two-time Olympic champions, and Vicky Thornley, who would win silver in Rio. In 2013 he coached the men’s quadruple scull to the first senior international medal (bronze) in that event, followed by a silver medal in 2014 and fifth place at the Rio 2016 Olympics. He has continued to coach the quad and oversee the men’s sculling programme for much of the recent Olympiad, securing Olympic qualification for the quad in 2019.

Women’s sweep: James Harris

James made history as coach of the women’s eight in Rio, who became the first ever GB women’s eight to win an Olympic medal. Through the 2019 season, he coached the women’s eight to medals at World Cups and European Championships and that all-important Olympic qualification spot. A former World Class Start coach, he joined the senior team in 2014.

Women’s sculling: Paul Reedy

Paul is a hugely experienced member of the group, having been part of the senior GB Rowing Team since 2009. Formerly responsible for GB’s lightweight women’s squad, he coached Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking to gold at London 2012. Last year he coached Vicky Thornley as she became the first women’s single sculler to qualify an Olympic spot for Great Britain in 20 years.

A further change within the men’s sweep programme sees Christian Felkel stepping down this week to take up a role with the German rowing team.

Reflecting on 12 years with the GB Rowing Team Christian says: “I have loved my time at British Rowing and am sorry to leave the team this close to the Olympic Games. I have to think about my family in these difficult times, especially my elderly mother, and it gives me peace of mind to return home. I wish all the guys the very best and will look forward to seeing them at international regattas in the years to come.”

Robin Williams MBE, who coached Helen Glover and Heather Stanning to two Olympic gold medals in London and Rio, rejoins the GB Rowing Team to support the men’s sweep squad with Steve Trapmore.

Brendan Purcell paid tribute to Christian, saying: “Christian has been a fantastic member of the Team.  I would like to thank him for his significant contribution to the success of the GB Rowing Team since 2009 and I am sure I speak for everyone involved with the Team that we wish him all the best.  We understand the pandemic has forced everyone to rethink their priorities.

“While we are sorry to see Christian leave, we are delighted Robin is able to come back to Caversham and support the men’s sweep squad.  He is a vastly experienced and successful coach and we know he will bring his fantastic skills and experience to the coaching team and the rowers at this important time.”

British Rowing members can enjoy a series of coaching and technical articles from Robin, available on British Rowing Plus.

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