The OD - Issue 1 - page 5

2011 · iSSuE 1
Frances Houghton
(OD 1993) is one of the most
talented and single-minded athletes to have
attended the Dragon. A contender at three Olympic
Games (and securing silver medals at two), she has
also competed in numerous World Championships
in both double and quadruple sculls.
“The Dragon gave me the right approach to
training: the more you put in, the more you get
out,” she says. This philosophy has worked well
for Frances: she won silver medals at the 2004 and
2008 Olympics, in the women’s quadruple sculls,
and has achieved four gold medals in the World
Championships since 2005.
Frances’s rowing career began at the Dragon
where she excelled in the one sport in which her
older sister Joanna (OD 1990), did not participate.
She quickly fell in love with the sport and the river
where she practised. “I’ve always found rowing a
great equalizer. I wasn’t cool, I wasn’t good at any
other sport, but that didn’t matter when I was out
on the water rowing”.
Frances went on to The King’s School, Canterbury,
where rowing was not an option for first year pupils.
Her first year spent as a spectator was frustrating,
but Frances was soon back on the water, drawing on
her previous Dragon experience, and immediately
stood out as a talented and passionate rower. She
went on to compete in her first World Rowing Junior
Championships in 1996 at the age of 15 and finished
4th in the quadruple scull. In 1998 she rowed in
a double scull with Debbie Flood; they won the
bronze and became the first Junior Women’s sculling
medallists for Great Britain.
Frances set her heart on competing at the
Sydney Olympics in 2000. “I made the decision
to do all I could to get to Sydney. I was motivated
by watching past Olympic athletes and made
a commitment to be there,” she says. Frances
competed in the double sculls in 2000, finishing
ninth overall. Even as a medal winner, the awe
and inspiration of being at the Olympics persists:
“It’s one of the biggest gatherings of people in the
world,” she recalls. “The atmosphere is amazing and
everyone has the same mentality.”
The 2011 World Championships are in Bled,
Slovenia, where Frances will compete in the
qualifying heats for the 2012 Olympic selection.
During the run up to the previous Olympics,
Frances’s daily training programme was rigorous,
including three sessions in the water and in the
gym, and a lengthy training camp in Majorca.
Frances stresses that although the camps provide
fantastic facilities for intensive training, they also
offer the opportunity to focus single-mindedly
on conditioning, without the distraction of
everyday chores.
Frances appreciates the time she spent at the
Dragon because it was here that she was introduced
to the sport she loves and prepared for a successful
sporting career. She also acknowledges the
importance of friends made at the Dragon and says:
“I’ve always had great support from the Dragon, not
only from old friends, but from people I don’t even
know - we may not know each other, but we’ve all
shared something special.”
“I’ve always had great support and encouragement from the
Dragon, not just old friends, but from people I don’t even
know. We may not know each other, but we’ve shared
something special.”
Frances Houghton:
From Cherwell
to Champion
1,2,3,4 6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,...28
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