Bennett has designs on Plovdiv prize

Bennett has designs on Plovdiv prize

06 September 2018 / 11:51

Karen Bennett has already packed so much into a relatively short career as a Great Britain international - why not attempt to squeeze in a World Rowing Championship gold to boot?

The 29-year-old signed off on first full season with the GB rowing team in 2016, having helped her nation win a first-ever women’s eight medal with silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics as well as European gold in Brandenburg, Germany.

A year earlier, Bennett had also taken home a silver medal in the coxless four in the 2015 World Championships in Aiguebelette, France, but she has more glory in her sights as she prepares to compete as part of the British eight boat at the 2018 World Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

The Edinburgh native doesn’t want to waste any time.

“This is what we train for all year,” said Bennett.

“In those winter training sessions when it’s dark and cold and it’s hard to get out of bed, you kind of think forward about why you’re doing it. Unless it’s an Olympic year, the World Championships is the biggest thing.

“I started through the Talent ID project called Sporting Giants back in 2007.

“I was 18, so I was quite late to the sport and because I was at Uni, it was shared 50-50 with my time and I didn’t really take it as seriously as I should have.

“I’ve been racing on the international senior stage since 2015 and though I’m probably one of the more experienced athletes in the team now, I’ve not got years and years behind me.”

She added: “I raced [at the World Championships] before in 2015 and that wasn’t an Olympic-class boat at the time, so it wasn’t as competitive.

“Stepping up into an Olympic-class event – the eight – to win a medal at world level would be incredible. It’s definitely something I want to tick off before I retire.

“The silver medal that we won in the four – we shouldn’t take anything away from that and at that moment in time, that was one of the best things that I’d done in my rowing career.

“That stepping stone has made me who I am today but I would definitely be adding to something that I want to achieve in my career.”

Just a few weeks ago, Bennett and the rest of the GB eight crew that will take to the water in Plovdiv – Anastasia Chitty, Rebecca Girling, Fiona Gammond, Katherine Douglas, Holly Hill, Holly Norton and Rebecca Shorten – won silver at the European Championships at Strathclyde Country Park.

It was a Scottish homecoming to savour for Edinburgh-native Bennett, who is using the experience to fan the flames of her gold medal ambition.

“I guess that I was disappointed with a silver but happy as well at the same time – it’s a mixed one for me,” she said.
Karen Bennett

“I loved going back to where I first started to row. It’s literally where I took my first stroke.

“So, it felt like I’d done the full circle. It was really special for me and there were a lot of my friends and family that came to watch, which was brilliant because we don’t always get the chance to [race in front of them].

“That was the first time that we had raced in that combination this season. We raced Henley Regatta a few weeks before but that was just a one-on-one race.

“We had the Romanians, who are the world champions, and we also had the Dutch, who are the World Cup leaders this season.

“We knew that both of those crews were really high-calibre – taking down the Dutch was a good step but we didn’t get the Romanians, so that was disappointing but we’ll get the chance to try and get them, and all of the other crews that have been performing this season, this time.”

Sportsbeat 2018