Rio 2016: ‘Olympic medal would be powerful message for women’s sport’ says rower Zoe Lee

Great Britain rower Zoe Lee ahead of the Rio Olympic Games, Brazil. Photo:Mike Egerton/PA Wire.
Great Britain rower Zoe Lee ahead of the Rio Olympic Games, Brazil. Photo:Mike Egerton/PA Wire.
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North Yorkshire rower Zoe Lee believes the sight of nine British women on an Olympic podium would make a lasting impression.

The Games debutant will cap a memorable year of personal highlights when taking her seat as the stroke in the women’s coxed eight heats at the mesmeric Borges de Medeiros on Monday.

The 28-year-old from Richmond, completed a doctorate in geography at Imperial College, London, in March before booking her place at Rio a matter of weeks later.

Great Britain has never won a medal in the women’s eight boat at an Olympic Games, yet the boat heads to Brazil in strong form. The GB crew won the European title in May and finished in silver medal position at the world championships 12 months ago.

Further progress was made when the biggest boat of the fleet came close to ending the four-year winning streak of gold medal favourites USA at the World Cup in Lucerne in June.

“It’s really exciting to be in a women’s eight that’s going so well, ” added Lee, who started rowing when studying an undergraduate degree at Oxford University.

“If we perform to our potential, we have a real opportunity to stand on the podium in Rio.

“That would be so inspiring to young athletes, to see nine women on a podium. It would be really powerful.

“As role models, it would be a really positive message to increase participation in women’s sport.”

Lee will be joined by four-time Olympian Frances Houghton in the quadruple sculls. The team also contains Katie Greaves, Melanie Wilson, Polly Swann, Jessica Eddie, Olivia Carnegie-Brown and Karen Bennett, while Zoe de Toledo is responsible for guiding the pace as cox.