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  • Writer's pictureDavid Simmonds

From Rio to Rotterdam – An International Summer

For the majority of the club, the 2015-16 season ended at Henley Royal Regatta, with excitement both on and off the water. Congratulations must go to Adam Seward on making another Henley finals day with his “Sport Imperial” Brit 4+, #mahikiwednesday missed you.

With most of IC having gone home after a busy year of study & training, several members subjected themselves to a summer of thrills at the awe-inspiring GB Rowing training centre in Caversham. With the Olympic team away for the whole summer, and the World Championships, U23 World Championships & University World Championships (FISU) being in late August and early September, this meant that those selected were lucky enough to spend a whole two months in their crews before racing kicked off in Rotterdam and Poznan. This year we had three members selected in the non-Olympic Worlds squad, three in the U23 squad and four in the FISU team.

Ex-boatman and resident Scotsman Sam Scrimgeour was selected to be the Olympic spare for the lightweight men’s team and was aiming to retain his World Championship title in the LM2- on his return from Rio. After a tough year for Donna, she was selected as the powerhouse in a strong W4-. Big lad Henry Fieldman, was going for another World Championship Gold in a new line up M2+.

GB Georgia Francis was selected in the W4x for her third and final U23s, while Captain Claire (Ollie Hines) would make his debut in the M2- after a fine showing of the “fly & die” tactic at final trials with Edinburgh’s Graham Ord. The pair would be coached by our very own head coach, Stuuuuu Whitelaw. For Italia, Maddy Ardissino was selected to race in the W2x after taking up rowing as a novice at Imperial in 2014.

Georgia and Stu were overjoyed to meet Claire Balding at the Team announcement

After endless seat racing and testing (aka a big 2k ergo) Tristan Vouilloz landed a spot in the four seat of the FISU M8+. While Paul Jones and Iain Mandale made up half of the LM4-, coached by our newest member, fresh from South Africa, Brendan Gliddon.

On to the Racing!


Christ the redeemer forgiving Mel for appearing in one of UL’s infinite stream of Instagram posts

While all this was all going on, Zoe Lee, Mel Wilson and Sam Scrimgeour were away on various camps in Italy and Germany before heading to Rio. Zoe and Mel were looking to become part of GB’s first ever Olympic Medal in the W8+ after a very successful lead-up, becoming European Champions in the process.

With the long and winding Road to Rio finally over, the time had come for the Girls to step up to the plate and make it count on the biggest stage of all, the Olympic games. And boy did they step up. In their heat, they rowed through Silver & Bronze medallists (NZ & Can) from last year’s World Championships to secure a place in the A final.

In the A final, lining up against the formidable USA W8+ the girls were in last place going through 500m, being from Imperial we were never in any doubt that the comeback was on. Still in 6th at the 1km, the march began, slowly but surely they walked through the field to finish just behind the USA at the finish. W8+ Silver Medal, Great Britain, the first ever.

Black, Blue and all the Silver. Mel Wilson and Zoe Lee win Silver in the W8+ at Rio

We’ve been very lucky to have these three train at IC over the years. And not to forget Barnabé Delarze, SUI- who was everything that BSJ could have been, and Emma Twigg, NZL – in her short stint here showed her absolute class on and off the water. Although they did not get the result they wanted or deserved in Rio, we know there is plenty more to come from these two in the future!

Shlid 1 and Shlid 2

Stay awesome Emma


Up next was the U23 and non-Olympic worlds at the Willem-Alexander Baan, Rotterdam. Both Georgia and Ollie’s crews had struggled with injury and illness in the build-up and during the week and Maddy’s boat being selected at very late notice, they all missed out on the A final. Georgia and Maddy did win their respected B and C finals to end on a positive note.

After a disrupted summer and only a week and a bit back in the boat post-Rio, Sam raced an incredibly tight final and came away with the Bronze medal in the LM2- to add to the two bronze and one gold he has already.

Donna & Henry both smashed their finals to become World Champions! What a start to the new Olympiad with many of the Men’s and Women’s team retiring this year, we look forward to seeing more from this lot in the next 4 years – #TowpathtoTokyo #TrailtoTokyo #TracktoTokyo?

Scrim winning Bronze in the LM2-

Henry Fieldman winning gold in the M2+

Donna Wining the W4-

Novice no more, Maddy Ardissino lines up for the start of her race


Last but not least to Poznan, for the FISU world university rowing championships. Paul and Iain faced a tough field in the LM4-. They finished in a respectable 4th place, behind crews containing Olympic finalists and World Champions. After a nervy start in the heat, Tristan and his crew came through the repechage and dominated the M8+ final to end the long season with a well-deserved Gold medal.

We know who did the hard work in that one! GB crosses the line in 1st place at the World University Championships in Poznan


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