Oar-some!

Tees Life talks to Teesside’s latest rowing star Beth Bryan, winner of bronze medals as part of the quadruple sculls team in both the European and World Championships in her first season competing at a senior level…

Tees Life: For those who aren’t rowing aficionados, what can you tell us about the quadruple sculls and the training you do?

Beth: There are quite a few boat classes within rowing but sculling is with two oars, rather than one, while there’s naturally four girls in the boat for quadruple skills. This year I’ve been sculling with Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne, Holly Nixon and Jess Leyden. Most of the year we train and compete against each other to get selection for the championships. We train two or three sessions a day, six days a week pretty much all year round. First session usually starts at half-seven in the morning, involving 16 to 20 kilometres on the lake, ten we’re back on the water about 11am and then there’s a weights session after lunch.

Tees Life: You’re based in Henley now but you learned to row on the River Tees?

Beth: Yes, I got scouted when a GB coach came to my school, Egglescliffe, and carried out a series of power and endurance tests. Four of us started training at the River Tees Water Sports Centre. Among them was also Jo Wratten, who has also gone on to compete for GB and was part in the women’s eight at the World Championships this year. We’re good friends and live together in Henley, having moved there this time last year. You have to be competitive in sport but we really have each other’s backs.

Tees Life: You recently took bronze at the World Rowing Championships in Florida, having already won bronze in the European Championships in the Czech Republic too.  How did that feel?

Beth: To achieve two really strong results in our first senior year was really exciting. It’s motivated me. We came third in the world! This time last year I’d have said “No chance” but now we’re hungry for more. We’re taking in step-by-step but we’re already thinking about how we’re going to get on the podium for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. But next year there’s three World Cups and the European Championships in Glasgow, so I need to do all I can to be in the boat for those.

Tees Life: Of course, Teesside already has an Olympic star in rowing, with Kat Copeland having taken gold in 2012. How much of an inspiration is Kat?

Beth: Kat’s one of our best friends. When she won in London we were in bits, seeing someone so close to us win gold at the Olympics. But there’s also a feeling of “Well, if she can, we can”. It’s my big ambition to go to the Olympics wearing the GB kit. That’s my aim for 2020.

Tees Life: Do you still get back to Teesside?

Beth: Yes, whenever I have a holiday I head back to my parents’ house in Hartburn. I do miss the 12-kilometre stretch of the River Tees where we used to train. We’d row from the Water Sports Centre next to the Infinity Bridge all the way down to Yarm and back. As much as we get taken the Micky out of for our accents, we are so proud to represent Teesside. Teesside will always be home to me. With the beach one way and the countryside the other, what’s not to like? It’s one of the greatest places on earth!