World Champion, Oxford Blue and GB Olympic team rower Ollie Cook gave an inspirational talk recently to Eton’s Viking Society.

Mr Cook joined the Olympic rowing team in 2012 when was selected for the 2012 World Rowing U23 Championship in Trakai, Lithuania. In 2013 he joined the Men’s coxless pairs, winning the European Bronze Medal and attending multiple world championships. His goal of being named world champion was realised in the Men’s Coxed Pair at the 2016 World Championships in Rotterdam, and he became a university champion by contributing to Oxford’s victory in the 2017 boat race.

Master-in-Charge of the Viking Soc, HGCC, explained to the Press Office why Ollie’s story is so fascinating. “Ollie is a World Champion oarsman who competed for Great Britain in coxless four at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Among the favourites to win, disaster struck in the last minute of the race and, after nearly crashing, the crew just missed out on the medals. Ollie was the steersman and knows the inside story of what happened and how, having met triumph and disaster, he is learning to treat those two impostors just the same.”

As an athlete competing on the world stage, Mr Cook reminded the audience that he had experienced both successes and failures, indeed a career is made by learning from trials and tribulations. The performance of Team GB’s rowers at the Tokyo Olympics last year was a personal reminder of this, and has since prompted a review of their performance to identify issues that can be resolved. In particular, issues with the steering of the boat has resulted in the development of more specialised training programs to rectify this.

The audience of rowing enthusiasts were delighted to hear from such an inspiring athlete, who also touched on the importance of a work-life balance and his life lessons from university, ideal fodder for a group of pupils looking to combine their passions for academia and sport!