GB-France and final trials report - two contrasting routes to success


Tuesday, 23 July 2013 19:08 Written by Administrator Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 19:22


Two contrasting routes to the GB France Regatta 2013 for two of Nottingham Rowing Club’s J16 athletes

  • 16 races in 4 days in soaring temperatures in Nottingham & London brings double triumph for Rowan Law
  • One race in 7 months sees a return to form & triumph for Anna Thornton

Rowan’s route to success

5 days from hell is how club coach, Claire Parnell, described the weekend of final trials and GB-France. Despite soaring temperatures, limited recovery time, a 300 mile return trip and not much food, Nottingham Rowing Club’s J16 sculler Rowan Law (West Bridgford School) scored a double triumph for Team GB.

When the 2013 rowing calendar was revealed, hearts sank. Final trials for potential junior candidates for Team GB were timetabled for the same weekend as the GB-France Regatta.

Rowan had his heart set on the trials process, so the decision was taken not to trial for GB-France as well; he had competed at that event in Gravelines, France in 2012 at the age of 15 (as the reserve single sculler) and therefore decided to go one better this year by targeting the trials rather than GB-France.

The Great Britain Head junior coach, Richard Boulton, then intervened and assured Rowan that he could do both events and it would not reflect badly on him to miss the middle two days of trials. With Rowan’s decision reversed, he went on to win the selection for GB-France in the junior men’s single sculls. Objective 1 met.

Rowan & his coach, Claire Parnell, spent 5 days juggling final trials (NWSC) with the GB France camp & regatta (Royal Docks), which did prove challenging for both athlete and coach. Final trials started on Thursday & both were finally released to join the team at 6:30pm Friday night – arriving in London at 11pm.

Up bright & early again Saturday morning for a paddle followed by a strength & conditioning session in the Excel Centre. The second outing was cancelled as temperatures soared & news came through from trials that seat racing was suspended due to rising temperatures. Whilst in London, our thoughts were back in Nottingham at trials – when in Nottingham, we were thinking about the GB-France race.

Rowan did his race on Sunday morning, job done, race won, medal collected & then we were both off back to Nottingham for more trials racing instead of celebrating and partying with the team! Objective 2 met.

Monday morning arrived after a sleepless night. Everything was very serious – athlete & coach felt sick & tense and could hardly speak to each other. Parents were bemused by the whole trials process and watched on at the finish line as the tension rose. The word “traumatised” was used quite a bit during the 5 days.

0930, lots were drawn for lane numbers and the final 2km race started. Rowan flew off the blocks and none of the other competitors got anywhere near him for the duration of the race. This was a huge improvement. In April at the Dorney trials regatta one of his competitors was ahead of him by 5 seconds in the first 500m. He crossed the finish line some 3 to 4 lengths clear in a time of 07:24.

So after 16 races in 3 days he won Team GB gold in London and was selected again to represent Great Britain for the Coupe de la Jeunesse in Lucerne. We travel to Caversham on Monday 29th July for a two day training camp and will be back Monday 5th August. Objective 3 met.

Rowan is sponsored by the following funds

  • Carl Smith Fund in memory of one of Notts County Rowing Associations most successful athletes who tragically died in a car crash
  • Nottinghamshire County Council’s rising stars fund
  • UK Sports Lottery Sports Fund


Anna’s route to success

Anna Thornton’s (Fernwood School) route to GB-France could not be more of a contrast to her team mate Rowan. Anna finished the 2012 racing season as women’s junior 15 British champion and was looking forward to a competitive 2013. She also started the trials process for potential GB candidates in October 2012 and made a very promising start. At the time she had only just turned 15 years of age. She finished in the top ten after the Long Distance Trials at Boston and was subsequently invited by British Rowing to attend a week long training camp in Nantes and December 2012. She returned injured and that ended her trials process for 2013. During her long months of recuperation, she had kept herself fit and strong but she could not always go out on the water or complete ergo training. Finally by July, she felt able to complete a race and that first race just happened to the trial.

With Claire Parnell tied up with final trials in Nottingham, Anna was coached by Andy Ivory at the start of the camp. Following on from Rowan, she won her race with grace and style with the comment being made that she was the best junior girls’ single sculler seen at the regatta for a number of years. Winning a gold medal for Great Britain at the end of such an upsetting year is what this young athlete deserved and we have no doubt that she will progress further in 2014.


anna rowan

 Anna and Rowan with coach Claire Parnell