Henley Royal Regatta – an Olympic achievement

August 12, 2021

We’ve hardly had a chance to catch our breath after the excitement of Tokyo 2020, but we are already being treated to the return of one of Britain’s most traditional summer sporting fixtures – Henley Royal Regatta.

The Tokyo Games may not have delivered the medal count that Team GB’s rowers had hoped to achieve but there were plenty of valiant performances and ubiquitous fighting spirit among the disappointment.

What is particularly poignant about HRR is being able to see the rising stars of rowing competing on the famous stretch of the Thames at Henley – our much beloved local waterway – after the cancellation of last year’s event for well documented reasons.

While there will be some post-Olympic frustrations and headaches for the sport’s upper echelons, Henley Royal Regatta offers a different perspective of rowing, one of hope for the future. 

765 days since the last Henley Royal Regatta, the event returned to an almost-but-not-quite normal. There are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the event from the comfort of one’s own home thanks to the YouTube coverage, but to see in-person attendance at the Regatta certainly adds some brightness to the event.

It’s undoubtedly been an Olympic effort for the organisers and the attending crews to make the 2021 edition a reality, but one that is worth more than its weight in gold.

Moe Sbihi summarised the ethos and attitude of rowing perfectly in British Rowing’s Tokyo wrap-up report when he said: “Part of learning how to win is to extract the performance out of yourself.” It’s at events like Henley where those Olympic values and beliefs are developed.

Vicky Thornley, having delivered GB’s highest-ever finish in the women’s single in Tokyo, also commented: “If you leave your heart and soul out on the water that’s all you can do.” There will be plenty of that spirit out on the Thames this week.