Celebrating the remarkable achievements of women in rowing

The River & Rowing Museum is excited to announce the opening of a significant new display in its International Rowing Gallery this month in recognition of the incredible impact women have had on British rowing in recent years.

The new display will celebrate the inspirational story of British women’s rowing at the Olympic and Paralympic Games from Sydney 2000 through to Tokyo 2020. Fascinating personal stories bring the display to life, illustrating the many pathways which have brought women to rowing at elite level and onto successes in the Olympics and Paralympics, providing role models for a new generation of rowers.

This display takes us on a journey through the evolution of British women’s rowing, from Sydney 2000 to Tokyo 2020. National Lottery funding in 1997, awarded equally to men’s and women’s elite sport, changed the landscape of British rowing. For the first time, women rowers had a formal, long-term programme to develop their potential, with better facilities, regular training and paid coaches. The outstanding win of a Silver medal by the British women’s quad at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the first fruits of that National Lottery funding, proved that investing in elite rowing was key to Olympic medal success.

The number of women competing at the Olympics has increased significantly over the past 20 years, and at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 there will be an equal number of men’s and women’s rowing events for the first time. Gender participation equality has already been achieved at the Paralympics.

Annamarie Phelps CBE says ”Women’s rowing has only come to the fore in very recent decades and it is great timing that Museum are celebrating the enormous contributions made by our female rowers to the success of British rowing whilst the viewership of women’s sport is at such a high. I hope these new displays and the inspiring stories they tell can encourage young women (and old) to reach for the stars and preserve the history of our sport for future generations.”

As part of the display, the renowned ‘Unbeaten Boat’ comes to the River & Rowing Museum.

This unique installation will tell the untold story of the iconic 2012 racing hull that took Helen Glover and Heather Stanning to the 2016 Olympics without losing a race. British Rowing is generously loaning the boat to the Museum and the display will recount the ecstatic moment at the London Olympics when Helen Glover and Heather Stanning won the first GB Gold Medal of the 2012 Games.

Hear first-hand at the Museum’s Rowing Futures Gala Reception, how The ‘Unbeaten Boat’ helped Helen and Heather to a number of GB National Trials wins, 45 International Championship wins, and laid the foundations for their second Olympic Gold at Rio in the new 2016 version of the hull.

Natalie Patel, Head of Collections & Exhibitions at the Museum, says “I’m delighted that we’re showcasing the incredible talent of British women rowers in our International Rowing Gallery. These intensely personal stories about getting into rowing and then succeeding against all the odds are truly inspirational. I hope that our visitors enjoy discovering just how these Olympic and Paralympic heroes first got into the sport!”

The powerful display has even more of an impact in the context of the incredible leap which women’s sport has made in recent years.

The River & Rowing Museum would like to thank the Henley Royal Regatta for its generous support of its new display.