Rowing star Lauren Henry is using her early struggles in the water to fuel her Olympic dream.
Lutterworth’s Henry endured a bumpy journey on her road to the 2019 World Junior Championships in Tokyo, from the days when the prospect of chocolate, not rowing, was all that maintained her interest in the sport as an 11-year-old.
Steady improvement followed but the 18-year-old hit a stumbling block at the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta in 2017, as she struggled to live up to her high expectations in the final in the Gateshead water.
And after suffering similar disappointment in coming overall tenth at last year’s World Junior Championship, Henry says the experience of dealing with adversity will stand her in good stead as she targets the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
“I wasn’t very good at the start - in fact, I was really bad and the worst person at my Hollowell Scullers club for a long time,” she said.
“I was so unfit it was unbelievable, and the chocolate and hot chocolate in the break between the sessions was all that stopped me from quitting the sport!
“I didn’t enjoy rowing, my hands got blistered and I think my twin sister, Becky, also kept me going as it meant we had something to do together on a Saturday morning.
“I would say I’m quite a determined and resilient character - when I set my mind on doing something, I like to go out and achieve it, even when things get tough.
“That tenth place at the World Championships was the biggest setback I’ve ever had, and I had recurring nightmares about it for about six weeks.
“If you’ve been really successful all the time, then lose, you may not know how to cope with failure, but I’ve had setbacks since I started rowing so I’ve got used to dealing with adversity.”
Henry was accompanied by partner Olivia Morgan in those World Junior Championships, as the pair sought to follow up their thrilling 2019 that saw them win silver at the Munich Junior Regatta and break the course record for their age group at the Henley Women’s Regatta.
The Lutterworth ace has developed considerable experience at international level since bursting onto the scene as a 14-year-old at Leicester Rowing Club, attending a high-performance training camp in Spain in 2018 as well as competing at the European Junior Championships in Essen last year.
And Henry, who recently completed her A-Levels at Rugby School and is aiming to study Medicine at either University College London or Imperial College London, hopes a date with Olympic destiny will beckon in eight years’ time.
“I really want to try and row in a single boat at the highest level - it’s the ultimate event and where the really top athletes race in,” she added.
“As a short-term goal, I want to win a medal at Under-23 World Championship level, so that will be my main goal over the next couple of years.
“Looking further ahead, I think I’d be lucky to make the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024, but I’m looking at Los Angeles in 2028 as where I really want to make my mark.
“And then 2032 is my ultimate ambition, when I’d be 30 years old and hopefully at my peak level of performance.”
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