Angus King
Rowing and sailing students gather around double World Champion and Olympic hopeful Matt Gotrel.
Angus King
Left to right Isabella Clarke, Matt Gotrel, Imogen Ledbetter, front Toby Ellis
Angus King
Angus King
World Champion welcomed back to school

Chipping Campden School warmly welcomed back former pupil and World Champion rower Matt Gotrel on Wednesday 11 May, when he came to speak about life as a professional athlete.

The former international sailor is already a double World Champion, having won back-to-back gold medals in the men's eight in 2014 and 2015. Matt, who is part of the GB rowing squad, brought with him the bronze medal that he had only just won at the European Rowing Championships in Germany at the weekend.

He spoke to over a hundred of our Year 7 to 10 students about the regimented and somewhat gruelling life of a professional athlete at the GB rowing training centre in Caversham, his experience at training camps around the world, and what it's like competing at the elite level of the sport.

Matt said: "It was great to be back and to see so many students turn up, and to see a lot of my old teachers - it brought back a lot of memories. I remember doing lots of different sports when I was at school, but never thought I would end up rowing. I didn't realise it was even an option.

So hopefully a few students left thinking that with a bit of hard work and resilience they can do anything they want, and it's never too late to start! If you give anything in life one hundred percent, you might find you surprise yourself."

Twenty seven-year old Matt left Chipping Campden School in 2007 before going on to Loughborough University where he discovered an aptitude for rowing. After 18 months as a professional sailor he became accepted onto a GB training programme and went on to make his GB Rowing Team debut at the 2012 European Championships. He goes into the 2016 season aiming to join the ranks of GB Rowing Team graduates to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio.

Fifteen-year old pupil Isabella Clarke, who competes for Evesham Rowing Club said: "I found Matt's talk really inspirational. It was a really good insight into the day-to-day life with the GB squad. It proves that it doesn't matter where you come from or what school you went to. The Olympics are achievable if you really set your mind to it."

Feedback from other students today has also been really positive. It's fair to say that his determination and single-mindedness really made an impression on their young minds. We wish him all the best for the coming months and trust that his name will be included when the selection for the men's Olympic rowing team is announced on 9 June!

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