PERFORMANCE RIVER - HUGO MILLS

Age he started rowing- 14, started it seriously from 16-17+ At school rowing wasn’t a popular sport, by the end of the year he was the only person in his year that was rowing.

On a More serious level: lower sixth he did GB trials, he missed the team by one place, the following year he got in. It was a massive eye opener, to go from a small school environment to be exposed to national level rowing. (companion to people like James cracknell, Greg searle who became Olympic athletes)

1990- he went to Easter trials and made the GB junior worlds team in France, winning a bronze medal in the junior coxed four. He did some travelling (a year away from rowing), then proceeded to continue at Durham university.

Durham had a bigger program, he was lucky to go there as the boat club had a good reputation and a bigger club, in comparison to previous years. He was in a good crew ( one of the members went on to be president of oxford), and was racing a four and an eight.

Two weeks before they decided to switch positions and boats (in the four) and at Henley they flew. They went on to break the course record of the Visitors cup, both in the heat and the final (record stood for 10 years).

Next two years- trained at Durham but didn’t have the same calibre of people that were there in his first year, and so decided to also train at Leander for 1993 and 1994. 1993- in a coxless four, lost in final at Henley, 4th at U23 world champs (Leander) 1994- silver medal at world champs rowing for Leander in a coxless four, was the spare pair at the world champs in Indianapolis. After- didn’t row for 1995, in 1996 rowed for Queens tower and won the Wyfold cup at Henley (coxless four)

Questions

What motivated you when you were the only one rowing at school?

I was incredibly frustrated, J16 didn’t have anyone to row with. I was lucky to have someone else in the year below who was like minded, and began to train with him in lower sixth. Due to the lack of popularity of the sport, we had to train on a 1km, narrow,winding stretch of water, so in the holidays we would go to the Thames and train against national level rowing schools.

Why rowing?

I came to rowing I guess because in my case I was particularly malcoordinated with other sports, and rowing is a sport that particularly rewards hard work and labour which is put in.

On any bad days what kept you going?

For me, the first three years there wasn’t anyone to row with. When we kicked off and did well I really enjoyed pairing and the camaraderie of the sport. It was a blessing to be out on the water and allowed me to become part of one big family. Rowing is a community sport, as everyone knows everyone and this occurs on an international level to coastal and river.

Concept of rowing as a journey

You start off, get into the system and then the system pulls you along. In a couple of summers I travelled around the world, doing races, high altitude training. There’s a very clear pathway from club to international, which enables you to meet lots of new and like minded people and race in some fantastic places around the world. I’d love to think that one day, as well as dominating the coast, some Lymington crews might be racing at Henley, and some of our best making it into the international system,that would mean as much to me as any of my achievements. I’d love to be able to try and help give the opportunity for talented youngsters to be able to have the rowing experience that I enjoyed.

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