An Olympic Silver medalist, Alison Mowbray was on the British Rowing team for seven years and competed in five World Championships and two Olympic Games. But this is not your usual story of sporting excellence since the age of five. A sporting disaster area at school, Alison’s story strikes a chord with everyone who has overcome difficulty to find their place in the world and with those still struggling. How does someone, at the age of 29 set out after their 1st Olympic medal: a four year goal that seems so remote that they don’t even dare tell anyone? How does anyone who has spent their life as a strong individual manage to form part of a perfect team? Find out how and feel inspired to go and make your own dreams happen.


Dropped from the school Netball and Athletics teams Alison Mowbray finally found her sport at the age of 18 when she stepped into a rowing boat for the first time at Liverpool University. Alison kept rowing, with some success, but it was firmly on the back burner for many years while she pursued an academic career. At the age of 26, having gained a 1st Class degree from Liverpool and then a PhD from Cambridge University she finally moved to London to attempt National selection. She made the British rowing team that year (1998) and two years later achieved last minute qualification for the Sydney Olympics where she finished 10th in the single sculls. It was not until then, at the age of 29, that an Olympic medal seemed even a possibility. Before the Sydney Games was over Alison had set herself the goal to row for four more years, go to Athens and come back with a medal.


Balancing part-time teaching with full-time training Alison found the mind-set and skills she had developed to get both her PhD and to qualify for Sydney crucial over the next four years. It was a hard time. Three years of defeat at successive World Championships meant that after 14 years of rowing, 6 years on the team and with just one year left until the Athens Olympics, Alison had yet to win an International medal. She very nearly gave up but, using mantras and philosophies she shares in her talks, Alison managed to pull herself back up to try one last time. The following year Alison was selected into a wonderful Quad Scull with Rebecca Romero, Frances Houghton and Debbie Flood and, in a break though year for British Women’s rowing, they went on to take the Silver medal at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games that summer. It would be eight more years before British Women won those first Olympic Rowing Golds at London 2012, but in Athens the whole British Women’s rowing team won medals – two silver and a bronze. This is a story about the development of a system, a squad and a team, not just an individual journey.






Click to enlarge images