Saturday, 31 July 2021

I was told I wouldn’t make it as a rower

DEBBIE FLOOD was told she would never make it when she first took up rowing.

DEBBIE FLOOD was told she would never make it when she first took up rowing.

Speaking to Hemdean House School pupils, she said her coach wrote her off after a series of disastrous performances as a teenager.

However, her father’s encouragement spurred her on and she persisted until she improved.

She said: “I was a bit too short when I first started rowing and I really wasn’t very good. My first week of training was pretty much spent swimming because I fell in so often.

“However, I was really hooked on it and I trained really hard for about four months while working towards my A levels. I was coming last in all the novice races, hitting the banks and falling in all the time.

“One of the coaches in my rowing club came up to me and said, ‘Debbie, we know you’re putting in lots of effort and we don’t want you to be disappointed, but we really don’t think you’re going to be anything more than an average club rower’.

“I was gutted — at that point in my life I was dreaming of the Olympics and trying to find that sport I might be successful in to represent my country but someone was telling me I wasn’t good enough and at that point I wasn’t.

“I went home in tears and talked to my dad about it. He asked if I enjoyed it and I said, ‘yes, I really do. I love rowing’ and he said, ‘if you work hard at something, you will always improve. You may make only a little improvement or you may make a lot but you’ll never know how much you’re going to make unless you try’.

“I carried on rowing, got a new coach and once I started to have some positive input, I rapidly improved.”

Debbie was addressing all 160 of the Caversham independent school’s pupils.Afterwards, she showed them the Olympic torch that she ran with through the streets of Bradford last year. She spent an hour talking with the children and posing for photographs.

Headteacher Joanne Harris said: “Debbie was an inspirational speaker and what she said was appropriate for children of all ages, even our little ones.”

More News:

POLL: Have your say