I was born and brought up on a small family farm on the north Cornish coast. I went to Wadebridge School, where I represented Cornwall in hockey at schoolgirl level, and whilst doing my A Levels at Wadebridge, I started rowing on the River Fowey in south Cornwall. I continued with my rowing when I went to Cambridge University and represented the Light Blues in the women's Boat Race against Oxford. Whilst at Cambridge I was selected for the national Under 23 team and won a bronze medal at the World Under 23 Rowing Championships. Following graduation in 2004, I became a full-time member of the successful women's sculling squad, winning gold and silver medals in the quad scull and the double scull, including Olympic silver in Beijing 2008.
To my shame I have never been out in a pilot gig but that is one of my aims after 2012! I think the best thing about growing up in Cornwall is living by the sea. Nothing quite beats waking up to the sound of seagulls, or being able to go for a quick evening swim in the summer, or getting out in boats, fishing and snorkelling. And of course clotted cream - my preferred method is on toast with marmalade.
Growing up in Penzance brings back memories of beautiful beaches, swimming in the sea, playing on Gwithian sand dunes and eating ice cream on the promenade. My dad makes and sells Jelberts ice cream in Newlyn so Cornish food is never far from my mind! During my school holidays I worked as a lifeguard at Sennen beach, and, of course helped out in the family ice cream shop! Along with my two sisters and two brothers I enjoyed playing tennis, swimming and surfing and as a junior trained at Cornwall athletics club and represented England as a junior international cross-country runner. I also played hockey for Penzance hockey club, progressing up to representing the county and being part of the England satellite squad. After doing a degree in Sport and Exercise Science I completed a PCGE to pursue a career as a PE teacher.
In 2008 I started rowing with a scheme called 'sporting giants', a talent identification programme designed to help put athletes into the GB rowing team. I combined my tough rowing training with PE teaching until 2010 when I made it on to the GB rowing team and started training full time. My first season as a rowing international was great fun, hard work and very rewarding. Rowing in the Womens Pair alongside Heather Stanning, we managed to get a silver medal at the World Championships in New Zealand. We kicked the 2011 season off to a great start by winning the first world cup in Munich and are now training hard to qualify for the Olympic Games and be on top form for London 2012.