- Course studied:
- Environmental Science
Grassroots of Staffordshire to Olympic Gold
Yorkshire bred; Andrew says his rowing heritage is in the grass roots of a small boat club at Staffordshire University.
It was while studying Environmental Science at the University that he took up the sport for the first time on Rudyard Lake; beginning his journey to double Olympic gold.
“It started off on a social basis but soon it grew, and soon it was something I was really enjoying,” he says.
Andrew credits the sport for having a dramatic impact on his life and his progression while at University.
“There was a direct correlation between rowing and my grades. When I was rowing, I felt incredibly motivated and that motivation reached other parts of my life. I became more organised, and I was better with time management. It had a profound change on me.”
Winning his first senior international vest for Great Britain in 2002, Andrew was part of the eight, which reached the final of the World Championships in Seville. A year later he was again with the eight that won his first Bronze medal at the World Championships in Milan.
Continuing his studies at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, with a Master’s Degree in Water Science, Policy and Management, Andrew stroked the winning crew in The Boat Race against the University of Cambridge in 2005.
After becoming double World Champion in 2005 and 2006, Andrew defended Great Britain’s Coxless Four title at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 to win his first Olympic Gold medal, before successfully defending his own title four years later with his crew at the London 2012 Olympic rowing regatta.
Andrew was also appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours following his success in Beijing.
He said: “My ambition now is to help nurture young athletes and help develop the sport of rowing for future generations to help play my part in the legacy that needs to be developed following London 2012.”
Inspirational return to Staffordshire University
This is my third visit to Trentham Gardens for the Awards ceremonies. The first time I was graduating with a degree in Environmental Science. It was while studying at the University that I first took up rowing.
My next visit was in 2013 when I was made an Honorary Doctor of the University – recognising my journey from Staffordshire Graduate to two times Olympic Gold medal winner as part of the Great Britain Coxless Four at Beijing in 2008 and London 2012.
As my ambition is to help nurture young athletes and to inspire future generations about the opportunities that come with education, I am delighted to be invited back a third time to take on the ambassadorial role of Pro-Chancellor.
I see my new role with Staffordshire University as a great opportunity to support the development of young talent – as it did with me – and to help prepare students for their own paths through life. And in as much as I’m coming close to a milestone in my life – my impending retirement before or after the Olympics in Rio – I’ll be seeking the kind of guidance and inspiration that all graduates will be looking for. I hope to be able to give students and graduates of the University the confidence to find their own paths to success.