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Annie Vernon (Downing 2001)

selection icon cambridge blue  Update: in a race that was dominated by the US crew (6:10:59), the GB Women's Eight were
  disappointed to come 5th in the final on 2 August 2012, in 6:18:77. You can read Annie's
          reflections on her experiences in her BBC blog post here.

selection icon cambridge blue  Update: Annie Vernon has been selected to row in Team GB's Women's Eight at the London 2012
  Olympic Games.  Find out more on her official athlete profile on the Team GB website.

Annie Vernon (Downing 2001)Subject: History
Sport: Rowing
Hoping to qualify for:
Women’s Quadruple Sculls
Team: GB
Blog: www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/annabelvernon


What does winning feel like? "When you win, it's a relief not to have messed it up, then happiness and joy sink in and you feel it's all worth it."

“I grew up in rural Cornwall, which meant passing my driving test gave me a whole new freedom. When I passed my test, I was 17 and in the sixth form. I wanted to do something different and meet some new people. My brother had just started rowing, and suggested I try it. I loved it immediately and thought: ‘This is the sport for me. This is what I love; this is what I could be good at’.

Of course, Cambridge is rowing mad. It’s the number-one sport there. Within a few days of arriving at Cambridge, I realised that the rowers had the best social life and the most fun, with a great boathouse on the river and lots of social events like dinners and cocktail parties.  People ultimately do things because of other people, and the kind of people that row are the most entertaining, relaxed and also hard-working people I’ve met. It was the natural thing to do at College.

In my second year at university, my goal was making the Boat Race team. Then I gave the under-23s a try – and then I thought I would give seniors a go. I just wanted to see how good I could be. One thing led to another and, before I knew it, it was 2008 and I was on a plane to China for the Beijing Olympics.

Beijing was an absolutely mind-blowing experience. I don’t think anybody could have prepared me for just how special it feels to be an Olympian for Great Britain. I went into it thinking it would be a lot like the world championships, which I’ve done three times, except bigger and with lots of different sports. It wasn’t like that, though. It was really different. The Olympics have this absolutely unique buzz and the reason it’s so special is because it’s something you can’t put into words. The whole feeling of going to the Olympics is really indescribable.

The biggest difference this time around is that all my friends and family had tickets to watch me in Beijing, whereas none of them managed to get tickets to watch me in London. At this stage four years ago, we were talking about the challenges we would be facing in Beijing. Now we’re talking about the challenges we’ll face in London. There’s challenge and opportunity in every scenario."

The GB Rowing Team is sponsored by Siemens.