Ex-Heriot oarsman Harry Leask delighted to be part of GB Olympic rowing squad

Former Borders water sportsman Harry Leask is off to Tokyo soon as part of the British Olympic squad’s rowing team.

By Ralph Mellon
Friday, 2nd July 2021, 11:22 am
Harry Leask, left, formerly of Heriot, is in the Team GB rowing squad for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. His teammates are Angus Groom, Thomas Barras and Jack Beaumont
Harry Leask, left, formerly of Heriot, is in the Team GB rowing squad for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. His teammates are Angus Groom, Thomas Barras and Jack Beaumont

The 25-year-old, previously from Heriot, is in the men’s quad (M4x) line-up, which won a bronze medal in Lucerne at the 2021 World Rowing Cup II in May.

Harry will be on board once again with his fellow oarsmen Angus Groom, Thomas Barras and Jack Beaumont, plus four spare rowers.

He’ll also be joined in the Far East by another Borders team member, Maddie Arlett, of Selkirk, who is reserve rower with the lightweight women’s double sculls.

A full-time member of the GB rowing squad, Harry moved to London in 2012 to pursue his passion for the sport.

He grew up on Brothershiels Farm in Heriot and then attended Oatridge College at the age of 16 to study agricultural engineering.

"My love of rowing and drive to succeed took me down south a year later,” he said. “My two loves in life are rowing and tractors and, for many years, I worked part-time for an agricultural contractor to help fund my rowing.”

Harry began rowing full-time with the British squad three years ago, so gave up work.

He was very conscious of the backing he’d received from family and friends and was understandably thrilled to be part of the team for Japan.

“Words cannot say how delighted, amazed, nervous and proud I am,” he said. “Think of every emotion and it's there.

"I can’t wait to get out there and hopefully bring a medal home with the other three in the boat.

"Olympic selection and, hopefully, a medal, is what I have driven towards and dreamed of for the last 11 years. I’ve had some great support and coaching at Clydesdale rowing club, following in my brother Jack’s footsteps, and latterly, when I moved to Leander Club, so getting to the Olympics is as much a thank you to them.

"I suppose you can’t forget my biggest supporters and fans, Mum and Dad. There is one person I wish was here to watch and that’s my granddad Kennedy – he bought my first boat.”

Harry, now based in Henley-on-Thames, won bronze with his team mate two years ago at the European Championships held in Glasgow. Prior to this, he excelled in other events and is also a previous Scottish Junior Champion.Currently at high altitude training in Silvretta, he is due back on Monday, before heading to Tokyo. Rowing at the Games takes place at the city’s Sea Forest Waterway from July 23-30.

After the squad was announced, Lee Boucher, of Scottish Rowing, said: “We are extremely proud of all the Scottish rowers named as part of Team GB for the Tokyo Olympics. Being selected to represent your country at the Olympics is an outstanding achievement in normal times, to do so during a pandemic, given all the challenges and uncertainty, represents exceptional courage, resilience and determination. We wish the team well as they strive to produce their best performances in Tokyo.”

British Rowing director of performance Brendan Purcell said the squad had used the Covid-19 lockdown time away from competition to focus on itself and individual development.

"Since then, the group has thrived, topping the medal table at both the 2021 Europeans and the World Rowing Cup II,” he added.

“Obviously, this Olympic Games will be a totally different experience, with it being the first time in over two years we’ll be competing against many crews from the rest of the world. We don’t have a real form line on them but we believe in the work we are doing and the results of our own performances, and it’s a great opportunity for the coaches and athletes to go out there and write a unique chapter in the legacy of the British Rowing team in this unique year.”

Mark England, Team GB Chef de Mission said: “The team has had some promising results in recent weeks, topping the medal table at the European Championships and World Rowing Cup II, and I am sure they will relish the opportunity to show their form as they race the Olympic course at the Sea Forest Waterway.”