Frances Houghton

Rower // Women's Squad
Date of Birth: 19th Sep 1980 (35 years old)
Club: University of London Tyrian Club
Height: 193.00
Hometown: Oxford

Frances Houghton profile image
Lottery Funded - UK Sport

Frances Houghton will compete at a record fifth Olympic Games in Rio after being selected in the women's eight.

The longest serving member of the GB Rowing Team, having first joined the junior squad in 1995, Frances – along with former sculling partner Katherine Grainger – will become the first British female rower to compete at five Olympic Games this summer.

She will be looking to complete a hat-trick of Olympic medals, having won silver in 2004 and 2008.

After winning historic medals at Junior and U23 level, Frances has gone on to enjoy a hugely-successful career and has been crowned as World Champion in the women’s quadruple scull four times.

Four-times World Champion Frances has won two Olympic silver medals and will compete at a record fifth Games in Rio this summer

On The Water

2016

European Champion Women's Eight

2012

Olympic Finalist Women's Quadruple Scull

2010

World Champion Women's Quadruple Scull

2008

Olympic Silver Medallist Women's Quadruple Scull

2005, 2006 & 2007

World Champion Women's Quadruple Scull

2004

Olympic Silver Medallist Women's Quadruple Scull

1999

World U23 Champion Women's Double Scull

1998

World Junior Bronze Medallist Women's Double Scull

Rio 2016 Olympiad: 2013 – 2016

Frances switched from sculling to sweep for the 2016 season and earned selection in the women’s eight. She helped to secure an eye-catching gold at the European Championships in Brandenburg, with GB surging through to take the victory in a perfectly-judged race. Another thrilling late push at the Lucerne World Cup saw the GB eight go mighty close to overhauling the Olympic and World Champions from the United States and they won silver again at the World Cup in Poznan, this time behind New Zealand.

Frances started the 2015 season in the women’s single scull, where she finished tenth at the European Championships in Poznan but had to miss the World Cup in Varese on medical grounds.

She completed the season in the quadruple scull alongside Melanie Wilson, Tina Stiller and Jess Leyden. They finished sixth at the Lucerne World Cup and eighth at the World Championships in Aiguebelette, narrowly missing out on qualifying the boat for the Rio Olympic Games at the first attempt.

Frances had spent 2013 and 2014 in the women’s double scull, partnering Vicki Meyer-Laker during the first season. The World Cup regattas saw them win bronze in Sydney and gold in Eton Dorney before placing fifth in Lucerne. They went on to finish just outside the medals at the World Championships in Chungju.

Vicky Thornley joined Frances in the double in 2014 and they finished fifth at both the European Championships in Belgrade and World Cup in Aiguebelette. However, illness then brought Frances’ season to a premature halt.

London 2012 Olympiad: 2009 – 2012

London 2012 was the fourth Olympic Games of Frances’ career and came 17 years after her first appearance in GB colours.

After winning silver in the women’s quad at the Beijing 2008 Games, Frances took a year out and then had to undergo hip surgery on her return to the team. However, she recovered in time to win a fourth World Championship quad gold alongside Annie Vernon, Debbie Flood and Beth Rodford in New Zealand in 2010.

After starting 2011 with bronze in the quad at the Munich World Cup, injury again affected Frances’ season but she was able to compete in the single scull at the World Championships in Bled, finishing a fine fourth.

Frances returned to the quad for 2012 and won bronze medals at both the Belgrade and Munich World Cups. She was selected for her fourth Olympic Games and finished sixth alongside Melanie Wilson, Debbie Flood and Beth Rodford.

GB Competitive Record

Olympic Games
2012 6th W4x
2008 W4x
2004 W4x
2000 9th W2x
Olympic Games:
2012
6th
W4x
Olympic Games:
2008
W4x
Olympic Games:
2004
W4x
Olympic Games:
2000
9th
W2x
World Rowing Championships
2015 8th W4x
2013 4th W2x
2011 10th W1x
2010 W4x
2007 W4x
2006 W4x
2005 W4x
2003 4th W4x
2002 4th W2x
2001 7th W2x
2001 6th W8+
World Rowing Championships:
2015
8th
W4x
World Rowing Championships:
2013
4th
W2x
World Rowing Championships:
2011
10th
W1x
World Rowing Championships:
2010
W4x
World Rowing Championships:
2007
W4x
World Rowing Championships:
2006
W4x
World Rowing Championships:
2005
W4x
World Rowing Championships:
2003
4th
W4x
World Rowing Championships:
2002
4th
W2x
World Rowing Championships:
2001
7th
W2x
World Rowing Championships:
2001
6th
W8+
European Rowing Championships
2016 W8+
2015 10th W1x
2014 5th W2x
European Rowing Championships:
2016
W8+
European Rowing Championships:
2015
10th
W1x
European Rowing Championships:
2014
5th
W2x
World Rowing Cup Regattas
2016 Poznan W8+
2016 Lucerne W8+
2015 Lucerne 6th W4x
World Rowing Cup Regattas:
2016 Poznan
W8+
World Rowing Cup Regattas:
2016 Lucerne
W8+
World Rowing Cup Regattas:
2015 Lucerne
6th
W4x
World Rowing U23 Championships
1999 W2x
World Rowing U23 Championships:
1999
W2x
World Rowing Junior Championships
1998 W2x
1997 4th W2-
1996 4th W4x
World Rowing Junior Championships:
1998
W2x
World Rowing Junior Championships:
1997
4th
W2-
World Rowing Junior Championships:
1996
4th
W4x
GB Rowing Team Senior Trials
2016 3rd W2-
2015 3rd W1x
2014 2nd W1x
2013 2nd W1x
2012 4th W1x
GB Rowing Team Senior Trials:
2016
3rd
W2-
GB Rowing Team Senior Trials:
2015
3rd
W1x
GB Rowing Team Senior Trials:
2014
2nd
W1x
GB Rowing Team Senior Trials:
2013
2nd
W1x
GB Rowing Team Senior Trials:
2012
4th
W1x

More info...

Frances made her competitive GB debut aged just 15 as part of a women’s quad that finished fourth at the 1996 World Junior Championships in Glasgow. She was fourth again in the women’s pair the following year in Hazewinkel before winning double scull bronze with Debbie Flood in Linz in 1998.

That was GB’s first-ever junior sculling medal and the same pairing won the first U23 sculling medal when they recorded an impressive victory at the World U23 Championships in Hamburg. Frances also made her senior debut in 1999, racing at two World Cups, and was crowned as World Junior Indoor Rowing Champion in the United States.

Frances secured a seat in the double for the 2000 season and made her Olympic debut at the Sydney Games, finishing ninth alongside Sarah Winckless.

She renewed her partnership with Debbie Flood during 2001 and, after winning World Cup gold and silver, placed seventh on her World Championships debut in Lucerne. They improved to fourth at the following year’s event in Seville, where Frances was living and working as part of her Hispanic Studies degree course.

Frances moved to the quad in 2003 and narrowly missed out on a medal at the World Championship in Milan. However, 2004 proved to be an excellent year as the quad won World Cup gold in Poznan and Lucerne before claiming Olympic silver in Athens. Alison Mowbray, Debbie Flood and Rebecca Romero were also in the boat.

The next Olympiad saw Frances form part of an outstanding women’s quad that won three successive World Championships titles from 2005 to 2007. That made them favourites for gold at Beijing 2008 but, in an agonising final, the quartet of Frances, Katherine Grainger, Annie Vernon and Debbie Flood were overhauled by China in the dying stages and had to settle for silver.

Club: University of London Tyrian Club
Boat: Women’s Quadruple Scull
Role: Rower
Coaches: Paul Thompson
Learnt to Row: Dragon School, Oxford

Beyond the Boat

Frances is celebrating 20 years since she first became a member of the GB Rowing Team, having joined the junior ranks in 1995. If she could swap places with another sportsperson, it would be with “one of those young ones that still have it all ahead of them”.

She has a great love of food and cooking. During a year out from rowing in 2008-9, she spent three months training to be a professional cook at Ballymaloe Cookery School. She then went on to work both as a private cook for a family and at the popular London restaurant, Ottolenghi.

Since returning to rowing Frances has designed a cookery course for athletes who ‘can’t cook, won’t cook’. Her perfect post-competition meal is scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toasted rye bread with loads of veg and the three things she would take to a desert island are a foraging guide, a decent knife and a plate. Her pet hate is inefficiency and queuing, “especially when it culminates in a buffet that doesn’t use both sides of the table – one dish, two spoons, two queues, half the time.”

Frances – who has a degree in Spanish from Kings College, London – loves to escape to Cornwall. “It’s beautiful and the cream is delicious.” Perhaps unsurprisingly her current favourite TV programme is Poldark and her ideal dinner guest would be Ross Poldark – “does anyone else have to come?”

Frances is Lottery funded through UK Sport.

Personal information

Current Address Home Town Region
Henley-on-Thames Oxford Oxfordshire
Current Address:
Henley-on-Thames
Home Town:
Oxford
Region:
Oxfordshire
Date of Birth Height
13th September 1980 193m
Date of Birth:
13th September 1980
Height:
193m
Education
Dragon School – Oxford, Kings School – Canterbury, King’s College – London
Education:
Dragon School – Oxford, Kings School – Canterbury, King’s College – London