She was only 13 years old, and down to a lack of other female competitors, she had to race again the boys in her age group. She ended up coming 5th out of the 9 entries.
She continued to race for Barnet each year, before finally asking to try on-water rowing when she was 16 years old. London Youth Games was her first on-water rowing regatta. She caught the ‘rowing bug’ and went in search of a club that she could join in order to train and participate more regularly.
Lea Rowing Club was her local facility. At the time, the junior section of Lea Rowing Club was in the hands of London Youth Rowing (LYR), like Thames Rowing Club, Thames Tradesmen Rowing Club and Globe Rowing Club are today.
After completing a learn-to-row course, Yewande joined Lea Rowing Club. And, under the coaching guidance of Dan Cooper - who now coaches World Class Start athletes at Twickenham Rowing Club - she trained and raced for two years.
Her highlights include winning the relay event at the National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships, competing at the British Junior Rowing Championships and winning her first regatta in a double with Maddy Badcott. Maddy went on to win the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in 2016. While Yewande was accepted to study Material Science and Engineering at Imperial College London.
‘I’m from London, and wanted to move away from the city for a bit more space. But, rowing had a huge impact on where I decided to look to study,’ said Yewande. ‘I ended up choosing Imperial College London so that I could row and study simultaneously.’
‘Rowing at university forced me to be more productive, because I had to balance my studying with my training. I was also Women’s Captain in my final year, which came with a lot of extra responsibility.’
The highlight of her university rowing career was a great performance at Women’s Head of the River, crossing the line in 15th place.
Since graduating in 2016, Yewande was immediately accepted to continue her studies as a Master’s student, funded by the Henley Stewards Charitable Trust. This position provides her with a rowing coaching role, while also allowing her to study.
Her story has come full circle, as she has now returned to Lea Rowing Club as a coach and attended the London Youth Games indoor rowing regatta, representing team Hackney.
Above: Yewande representing Hackney at London Youth Games 2017 as a coach
‘London Youth Rowing has had a very influential role in my rowing journey, and is one of the reasons that I have continued to row all these years,’ said Yewande. ‘The work LYR does within the rowing community makes the sport more accessible and cheaper to try. I wouldn’t be rowing if it wasn’t for LYR.’