22 March 2017

World Championship rowing gold medallist Ollie Cook joins his brother Jamie and Vassilis Ragoussis in the Oxford crew for the 2017 Boat Race.

Speaking about his time at Abingdon, where the rowers compete in the School’s pink, Ollie said, “I'm racing in the blue boat for Oxford ​U​niversity on the 2nd and while I will be wearing dark blue, I will have my ​heart beating pink. Rowing at Abingdon gave me a huge amount; I may have been at school but it was at the boat house, the stretch of the Thames in Abingdon, going on training camps, the cold and wet afternoons and early mornings, the competitions and regattas, and above all the camaraderie of my friends where I got my real education. It’s a huge honour to be representing​ ​Abingdon in the Boat Race alongside fellow Abingdonians, my brother Jamie and Vassilis. The Boat Race is something I’ve always wanted to take part in, ever since the days of Robin Bourne​-Taylor and Nick Brodie. The three of us will need Abingdon out in full support, on the bank or shouting at the TV!”

The three oarsmen returned to Abingdon on Saturday 26 March for the Annual Boat Club Dinner where Ollie, who left Abingdon in 2008, was the guest speaker. Ollie returned with members of his 2008 1st VIII crew Max Gander, Simon Jeffreys, Michael Nagi, Fearghus Raftery and Matt Rossiter, as well as Jamie (OA 2010) and Vassilis (OA 2011).

Ollie spoke about rowing at Abingdon and how it was more than just about racing and winning but about life-long friendships being formed in the boathouse and this was evidenced by the support of his old Abingdon crew from nine years ago. The main theme of his speech was about turning adversity into a positive. Although Ollie was the spare for the VIII at the 2016 Olympics he did not give up, he was focused on what he wanted to achieve and when the opportunity arose, he took it and went onto win the gold medal in the coxed pair at the 2016 World Championships. Ollie was an entertaining and motivating speaker, who captivated his audience and inspired the boys.

Every person present wished Ollie, Jamie and Vas the very best for the Boat Race  and were very grateful that they had given up their evening, during such a busy training schedule, to attend the dinner. 

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening with delicious food, wonderful company and great speeches.

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