Reading

based at Reading Rowing Club

The World Class Start centre in Reading was one of the original centres and boasts some famous graduates, including double Olympic champion Alex Gregory.

It is based at Reading RC, which was founded in 1867 and sits on the Berkshire bank of the River Thames just outside Reading town centre.

In 2011, with the help of a substantial grant through British Rowing and the security of a new 99-year lease from Reading Borough Council,  Reading RC’s clubhouse underwent major developments. Club facilities now include separate ergo and weights rooms, spacious changing rooms, an office/meeting room, as well as a disabled access lift and shower.

Reading is also the only programme to have regular access to the home of the GB Rowing Team – the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake in Caversham. The centre conducts some of its land training there and is able to make use of the lake when the Reading stretch is flooded.

Since the inception of the Start programme at Reading, the centre has produced a number of current and past GB stars.

Gregory, who recently retired from professional rowing, was double Olympic gold medallist and world champion. Sam Townsend, born and bred in Reading, won men’s quadruple scull medals at successive World Championships – bronze in 2013 and silver in 2014; he also finished a creditable fifth in the men’s quadruple sculls at the Rio Olympic regatta in 2016.

Olivia Carnegie-Brown, another product of the Reading Start centre, enjoyed a highly successful junior rowing career before being selected for the senior team where she won European and World Cup medals in the women’s eight, and was part of the crew that took home an historic silver Olympic medal at the Rio games in 2016.

Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne won World Rowing U23 Championships gold in 2016, having made her senior debut earlier that year. At the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota, Mathilda raced in the women’s quad sculls and took home a fine bronze medal.

Sheyi Blackett won an impressive silver at the 2016 World Rowing Junior Championships, racing in the women’s quad sculls. Sam Courty was originally recruited to the Bath Start centre, but trained with the Reading Start programme for a year before joining the senior squad at Caversham; in 2016 she raced the women’s pair at FISU with Anastasia Chitty, winning bronze.

Find out more about World Class Start here