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British universities & Colleges Sport

BUCS in Brazil: Stewart Innes 22/04/2016

STEWART Innes’ remarkable 12 months just got even better after the Henley rowing star was named in Great Britain’s European Championships squad – opening the door to the plane for the Rio Olympics.

Innes admits 2014 was a make-or-break year for his career but in the last 12 months he has won World Championships bronze, European silver and gold at the Varese World Cup.

Stewart Innes

That has helped the former Shiplake CE Primary School pupil secure a spot in Great Britain’s open pair for next month’s European Championships, which sees GB Rowing select the boats they expect to name in the Rio Olympics squad in June.

Innes said: “It is a really fantastic feeling. It is something that I could not have dreamed of. I have had this dream since I started rowing ten or 11 years ago and it is where I have been aiming for.

“I raced in the World University Championships in 2014 and it was make or break for me. I hadn’t had the best season with a bit of injury and a bit of illness and I turned it on during the summer and came third in France in the singles.

“Last year was then a bit of a whirlwind. I trained really hard on my own through the winter, did pretty well through the trials process and I have been lucky to break into a team like this.

“I was in the eights last year and we won gold in the second World Cup in Varese and then I moved into the pair where we beat the bronze medallists from the year before in Henley and from there it has taken off.

“It has really been a last-minute dash for Rio, which has been really great.”

Innes took up rowing on the River Thames in Henley thanks to his dad and went on to compete competitively at St Edward’s School in Oxford, Durham University and latterly the University of Reading – where he is studying a Masters in diplomacy.

Over 60 per cent of British Olympic gold medallists since 1992 have participated in BUCS sport, with 56 members of Team GB at London 2012 competing for Great Britain at the World University Games.

And Innes, 24, said: “Racing in BUCS is really competitive and it is really fun. I remember racing in one particular race in my last year in Durham and we lost by the smallest margin that I have been in and the way the universities and BUCS work is really important.

“I went to university having not done any weights at all and the Durham weights coach – Jon Boyle – was fantastic.

“It is possibly the best set-up in the country in terms of weights and I learned how to train on my own and train myself and that has put me in this position.

“Last winter I was training on my own really hard and I did what I needed to do. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without Jon Boyle and the weights guys at Durham.”

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