Jake Offiler was a student at Wanstead High School when he competed at the London Youth Rowing (LYR), University Challenge event. University Challenge was the original schools indoor rowing competition, now run through our flagship programme Active Row.  

Here, he was talent spotted by LYR Head Junior Coach at Globe Rowing Club (GRC), Maurice Coughlan.

Maurice told us all about Jake’s rowing journey from a school indoor rowing competition to Junior Great Britain international athlete.

I first met Jake at the LYR University Challenge, at UEL, where I was talent spotting for young people with athletic potential. Jake impressed me and I invited him to a taster session with Globe Rowing Club (GRC). The session was supported by current squad members and designed to give beginners a fun experience for their first time on the water by integrating them with experienced rowers. Again, I was impressed with Jake and how well he slotted into the group. He joined GRC and began training in winter 2014-2015. In his first year he represented the region at the Junior Inter Regional Regatta and later managed to reach the A-Final of the Junior British Rowing Championships.  

Jake hit the required scores set out by the Great Britain (GB) Rowing Team and was invited to train at the GB Junior 16 Sculling Camp. And so started his GB pathway. He went on to race in my winning crew at the National Schools Head of the River, the National Schools Regatta and won a silver at the British Junior Rowing Championships the same year.  

2017 was the year Jake represented GB for the first time at the Coup de la Jeunesse Regatta, winning a Bronze medal in the quadruple scull.

In 2018 Jake was selected became Junior European Champion in the double sculls, and won Silver in the Junior World Championships the quadruple scull event.

Jake bought into the training process wholeheartedly and followed the programme as closely as school commitments would allow. We have worked closely together to get the best out of the programme, improve his technical ability and enable him to achieve his potential. He would confide in me when unable to manage the programme due to school commitments so I was able to make adjustments for him where necessary. Whatever I asked of him he was able to deliver. When a big performance was needed, on the water or on the rowing machine, he managed it.

He is highly thought of by GB coaches and is a great example to the rest of his squad. He has had an inspirational influence on GRC and is a great example of an elite athlete.

It has been a very rewarding experience coaching Jake.

Above: Maurice, centre, with his 2018 Henley Royal Regatta crew including Jake, left. Photo x WeRow

Jake told us about his LYR journey and how rowing has impacted his life.

Rowing so far, is the best thing that has ever happened to me. The skills it has given me are essential life skills such as organisation and time management, to name a few. These skills helped me through my A-levels, which as a result have landed me a place at my dream university, the University of Edinburgh.

I have also made very special relationships with other athletes and coaches that I will keep all my life and will help me in the future. I owe much of my achievements to my coach. Maurice, who has developed me into the athlete I am today. He devotes so much more time than most people would in order for his athletes to reach their full potential, and without him I would definitely not be in the place I am in today.

From being selected through a talent ID scheme at the LYR University Challenge to joining GRC a few weeks later, Maurice has done everything he could possibly do in order to help me to progress and I definitely would not have achieved a medal at the Junior World Rowing Championships without his contribution.

I think LYR’s mission is very positive as it opens access to rowing, which I know can open many doors and bring about amazing opportunities. It brings a diversity to rowing which is very refreshing. It feels brilliant when a state school or club beats the big schools such as Eton and St. Paul’s.  It is also great that LYR can give children with disabilities an experience on the water. I believe that it is really important for LYR to keep pushing forward with these initiatives because rowing is still an elite sport and is dominated by private schools.

I would encourage anyone to have a go at learning to row. It keeps you super fit, is great fun and teaches you skills you can use anywhere.

Above: Jake, right, with his 2017 Henley Royal Regatta crew