GB rowing team has Selkirk's Maddie Arlett in reserve for Olympics

Borders water sports ace Maddie Arlett has been chosen for Team GB’s rowing squad at the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.

By Ralph Mellon
Friday, 18th June 2021, 6:30 pm
Updated Monday, 21st June 2021, 10:41 am
Maddie Arlett
Maddie Arlett

The Selkirk sportswoman, one of nine Scots in a 45-strong squad bound for Tokyo next month, is a reserve in the lightweight women’s double sculls, the only event of its kind in the Olympics, alongside team mates Emily Craig and Imogen Grant.

Edinburgh University graduate Maddie, 27, said: “I need to be ready at the last minute to jump in, so it’s super exciting, as well as being quite scary and nerve-racking.”

At present, the former Selkirk High School pupil is attending a training camp in Italy, after which the squad will be spending a week in a hotel, where the regular routine will be governed by Covid-19 regulations.

“We’ll stay in our bubbles and play safe,” said Maddie, adding they would be travelling to the Far East in mid-July.

Although everyone understood the need for responsible practices during the ongoing pandemic threat, Maddie said the last few months had been difficult.

“Lockdown was hard, training by yourself on the rowing machine, and it seemed to drag on for a long time,” she admitted. “Then it was tricky to get things going again on the water when we all got back, training on different rivers, being separate, and all that.

"So it’s definitely been a weird year but the fact we're now going to Tokyo kind of makes it all worth it, so we’ll just hang on in there and keep pushing through.”

The last two or three years have seen Berkshire-based Maddie attain some notable career heights, so her selection for Japan is an even greater source of joy.

She was named Scottish Rowing’s 2018-19 Senior Rower of the Year and was acknowledged for inspiring and motivating other young Scottish rowing enthusiasts who were also moving through the ranks. She also had a boat named after her by Edinburgh University Boat Club.

Maddie, who trained full-time with the national team, also secured her first-ever podium finish at the 2019 world championships – and collected the UK’s first medal of the tournament in the process.

Competing in Linz Ottensheim, Austria, she finished third in the lightweight women’s sculls, less than six seconds behind the gold medallist. It was also her first time racing in single sculls at world level.

The rowing at the Tokyo Olympic Games takes place at the Sea Forest Waterway from July 23-30 and, 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.”

Amanda Cobb, Scottish Rowing’s chief operating officer, added: “The selections represent years of hard work, dedication and sacrifices and, in addition to congratulating our athletes, I’d like to pay tribute to the clubs, coaches, volunteers and partners across the country who have played their part in this journey. We all look forward to cheering them on at the end of July.”

Mike Whittingham OBE, director of high performance at the sportscotland institute of sport, said: “Scotland will have a very strong presence of athletes, coaches and staff in Tokyo, none more so than in the British rowing programme. Our congratulations to all the Scottish rowers who have been selected and also to Scottish Rowing and all the coaches involved in this great story.

"Their selection is testament to the collaborative partnerships at the heart of the Scottish Rowing performance programmes. I am delighted to see the depth in talent coming through across all disciplines.”