Monday, 20 September 2021

Olympic sculler to captain Leander

Thornley named second female captain of Leander Club in 200-year history

VICKY THORNLEY has become the second woman to captain Leander Club in its 200-year history.

The champion sculler was an obvious choice for the appointment having amassed an enviable medal haul on the world stage.

Thornley, 30, who moved to Leander eight years ago, said: “It’s a big honour and something I never really expected but to have this happen in Leander’s bicentenary year is very special.”

After winning a silver medal in the double sculls with Katherine Grainger at the Rio Olympics in 2016, she swtiched to the single scull, the boat in which she has won GB senior trials on four occasions. During the 2017 season she added two more world cup silver medals to her tally, as well as the European title, before taking another silver at the world championships.

Thornley, from Wrexham, came to rowing as a student after being recruited into the national Sporting Giants programme, which sought to identify young men and women with the right physical attributes for rowing.

At 6ft 4in she stood out from the crowd, but her height had not always proved an advantage during her previous careers as an equestrian rider and, briefly, a model.

As a member of the World Class Start rowing programme, she came under the eye of GB coach Paul Stannard and within 18 months had won her first title in GB women’s eight that took gold at the U23 world championships.

While training at Caversham she met former Leander captain Rick Egington, who introduced her to Leander, where she arrived in early 2010. He is now her partner.

Thornley said: “I haven’t asked Rick about the captaincy yet — he doesn’t get too excited about many things but I think he’s happy about this. I’m sure he’ll give me some useful advice as he knows the club inside out.”

She also paid tribute to her predecessor, Nick Middleton, who announced his retirement from rowing last week.

She said: “Nick has left big shoes to fill and I want to help continue the athlete mentoring scheme that he has helped set up. I want help promote the number of women at Leander and make it the go-to club for all women who are looking to succeed at the highest level.

“It’s question of helping women carry on rowing after they’ve left school or university. If they can see a clear route to progress, that will hopefully help keep more women in the sport.”

The first female Leander captain was Debbie Flood, who served from 2013 to 2015.

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