With Squad, Staff and Alumni from Cambridge University Rowing gathered around the television at the Goldie Boathouse, Melissa Wilson and Holly Hill, both current University of Cambridge students took to the water to represent Great Britain in the women’s pair at the World Rowing Championships in Sarasota, Florida.
Melissa and Holly who were both in this year’s victorious Cambridge Boat Race crew are both in their first year with the GB Rowing Team senior squad. Melissa (Lucy Cavendish) is studying Law, learned to row with Caius College Boat Club in Cambridge and progressed through the CUWBC Development Squad, winning medals at the U23 World Championships in 2014 and 2015. Holly (Downing) is studying Human, Social and Political Sciences and also took up the sport after starting at Cambridge. Holly was developed through the GB Rowing Team World Class Start programme at the Isle of Ely Rowing Club, and has also since become a double medallist at under-23 level.
The pair went into the World Rowing Championships as a somewhat unknown quantity, but after coming second in their heat to the New Zealand pair who had set a World Best Time earlier this season, they were shot into the limelight. The Cambridge pair then won their repechage comfortably to book their place in the final. Speaking after the heat, Hill said:
“That’s given us a huge amount of confidence. We came into the regatta not knowing a huge amount about where we might place having not done the World Cups as a pair so this was a really big opportunity for us to go out and see what we could do. To stay ahead of the Germans by such a margin is a real positive and hopefully we can take this forward to Saturday.”
In the final, Melissa and Holly raced a mature race to finish behind the USA, New Zealand and Denmark, concluding an excellent debut Senior World Championships for the pair. Commenting on their achievements, Cath Bishop, CUWBC Chairman and 2004 Olympic Silver medalist in the same boat type, the women’s pair, said:
“I know that all of CUWBC were supporting Melissa and Holly in Sarasota last week and will have felt huge pride watching them step up to the highest levels. They got stronger throughout the regatta, qualifying confidently for the final and racing a mature race in their first ever World Championship Final to come 4th behind 3 crews containing Olympic medalists and world record holders in the event. Few athletes can boast such an impressive start to our sporting careers. It is clear that they have brilliant international careers ahead of them, and it will be great for us to have light blue representation at the highest level to cheer on alongside our Boat Race crews!”
“But on the whole it’s been a lot of fun because that’s what racing with your mate is like.”