Maddy Badcott is 23 years old and started rowing aged 14 through London Youth Rowing at the Lea Rowing Club. In 2015 she raced in the Oxford Blue Boat, beating Cambridge in the first Women’s Boat Race held on the same course and same day as the men’s. In 2016 she was President of the OUWBC, and led the Oxford crew to victory in a dramatic race later described as “the worst boat race conditions in history”. In summer 2016 Maddy won a silver medal for GB at the World Rowing Under-23 Championships in the women’s eight. She has now retired from rowing and lives and works in London.

Excited to see how LYR has continued to develop, Maddy reflects on her rowing career.

I came across rowing pretty much by accident, after my mum wanted me to get out of the house in the summer holidays and found a Learn to Row course on the internet. At that point I didn’t do much sport and knew barely anything about rowing, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I do remember having a lot of fun on the summer course; we spent a week learning to row together in quads before doing a beginners regatta at the Royal Docks. My crew won a silver medal, which I still have somewhere at home!

It took me a while to get into training properly as I was a bit lazy to begin with, and wasn’t great at the early mornings! A big reason I stuck with it was how supportive and social the sport was, and the friendships I made at the club.

The support that LYR gave me as a junior made a massive difference to my development. The first big competition I did was the National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships 2012; the atmosphere of such a huge event was incredibly motivating, and definitely pushed me to work harder and get faster. Having LYR’s help with coaches, equipment and training camps, and being able to train with other LYR juniors, helped me get the most out of the sport early on and laid the foundations for my next steps.

Rowing in the Boat Race was an amazing experience. Both experiences were very different. 2015 was the first women’s race held equally to the men’s, so it was incredible to be a part of that. Leading OUWBC as President in the 2016 season gave me a brand new sense of responsibility and pride in our team and what we managed to achieve together.

I feel very lucky to have found the sport when I did. As a teenager, rowing taught me important lessons about teamwork, discipline and hard work, and gave me the confidence to tackle challenges on and off the water. I’ve also met some incredible people through the sport and am still close friends with many of the people I learned to row with.

Although not every young person who tries rowing will want to take it up full-time, I believe the benefits of sport should be available to everyone, regardless of their background or ability. I’m very proud to see LYR’s work going from strength to strength, and I hope their mission continues to get the support it deserves.

Photo credit:
Banner: John Trigg, Maddy with form LYR rower Callum Sullivan, at NJIRC 2019
Top right: John Trigg, Maddy (centre) at NJIRC 2019 returning to support the event
Bottom left: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images Europe, Maddy (second from left) rowing for Oxford in 2016

LYR aims to get young people active and engaged in sport, opening access to rowing regardless of background, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or ability. For more information about LYR and to help support our programmes, sign up as a volunteer or donate now.