‘It’s been a dream to race it together’
Members of the GB women’s eight, who won a historic silver medal at the Rio Olympics, will be racing the 2022 Women’s Head. Karen Bennett shares her thoughts ahead of tomorrow’s race
Back in 2016 at Rio, the GB women’s eight won a first-ever Olympic medal in this boat class for GB, taking silver in a nail-biting photo finish. Seven of the crew have now reunited to compete in the Women’s Head of the River on Saturday 12 March.
Coxed by Zoe de Toledo, the crew includes Karen Bennett, Frances Houghton, Katie Greves, Polly Swann, Jess Eddie and Zoe Lee, with Helen Glover and Caragh McMurtry replacing Olivia Carnegie-Brown and Mel Wilson.
Taking time out of training, Karen reflected on how the crew came about…
“When the idea was floated, on our Rio Olympic WhatsApp group, about racing WEHORR a few months ago I never thought it would actually happen. I desperately wanted it to, but I know that sometimes life gets in the way and rowing isn’t the priority anymore.
— Karen Bennett (@KarenBennett89) August 13, 2016
Six years ago we would see each other daily spending a minimum of five hours together. Now we try to meet up regularly, but it’s tricky to get us all in the same place at once. When the entry was put in, we were locked in and I knew we would make it happen. It’s been a dream to race it together.
There’s a lot that’s happened since that Rio Olympic final. For a lot of the girls it was transitioning into the ‘real world’ and finding a new purpose whether that was in a job, studying or life, which was a huge shift from their previous chapter. A few of us carried on rowing, competing for Great Britain to race at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t put together our exact eight from Rio as Olivia Carnegie-Brown and Mel Wilson are unavailable, but we have superstar double Olympic champion Helen Glover and Olympic rower Caragh McMurtry coming in.
Next week our Rio 8+ will take to the Thames to race @WEHORR . Our 6 girl @Olivia_C_B is in Oz (miss you) so the exceptional @Helenglovergb is stepping in! Can't wait to get out there! pic.twitter.com/nnDe5we6IN
— Karen Bennett (@KarenBennett89) February 26, 2022
Finding a time to get out and train hasn’t been as easy as it once was, what with us living in different parts of the UK, working and children to juggle – but we are managing to get out for a session on Friday and pre-paddling before the race on Saturday morning. I am so excited to be back in a boat with these women and having some fun.
I always remember in my first few years of taking part in WEHORR marshalling on the riverbank, sitting waiting for my turn to race and watching all the crews go off before me. I loved watching all the squad rowers race down and was really inspired by them, wanting that to be me one day.”