Brookes' rowers plan for 2012

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Oxford Brookes University Boat Club wins planning permission to extend boathouse.

Oxford Brookes University Boat Club, one of the UK’s five elite feeder squads for the Olympic team, has won planning permission to enlarge its boathouse alongside the River Thames.

The university now aims to raise £1 million to fund the building expansion which will see the training base near Wallingford in Oxfordshire double in size.

Oxford Brookes is the strongest undergraduate rowing squad in the UK and has produced four Olympic gold medallists: Ben Hunt-Davis, Fred Scarlett, Rowley Douglas and Steve Williams.

Half of the crew in the silver medal-winning men's eights at the 2008 Beijing Olympics had trained at Oxford Brookes.

The team’s year-on-year success under director of coaching Richard Spratley means more room is needed to store world-class boats and build land-based training facilities.

Double Olympic champion Steve Williams is wholeheartedly backing the plans: “Brookes has already gone a long way to establish itself. It’s a national training development centre and it has been recognised as such. This is going to be the next step. We need to get more boats and we need more space.”

Alex Partridge, who was in the silver medal-winning crew in Beijing, says of the boathouse campaign: "During my time at Oxford Brookes I learnt the fundamentals of becoming a successful oarsman – pulling hard and having fun.

“Building a new boathouse will provide the young men and women at Brookes with a far better platform to develop those skills, and one day become the Olympians of the future.”

Expanding the boathouse will bring a number of vital facilities under one roof including a gym housing rowing machines as well as warm-up and cool down areas required by world-class performers.

Oxford Brookes’ rowers train for up to 25 hours a week. They currently divide their schedule between river-based training and a land-based rowing suite in the university’s Centre for Sport 14 miles away from Wallingford.

The new building also features larger changing rooms for the club’s male and female rowers. The squad has 50 elite athletes but changing facilities for just 12 men and six women.

The university aims to build the extension by Christmas 2010 to give their rowers as much use of the new facilities as possible before the London Olympics in 2012.

The £1 million target will be reached through sponsorship, grants and support from donors and the university.