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UEL student in top GB boat for World Cup rowing regatta 

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Master's student Callum McBrierty recovers from Olympic disappointment to earn his place in GB coxless four

By Gareth Anstice

University of East London (UEL) rower Callum McBrierty (pictured far left) has bounced back from the disappointment of missing the Rio Olympics by being selected for Great Britain’s top-ranked boat for this weekend’s first World Cup rowing regatta of the season.  

Callum, 24, who is part of UEL’s successful sports scholarship programme, will compete in the men’s coxless four at the prestigious event in Belgrade, Serbia, from Friday to Sunday. 

And with a hectic schedule of three World Cup regattas and a European Championships in the space of 12 weeks, Callum is looking forward to a summer of top-class competition on the water.
 
“I’m excited for the challenge of being in the four,” he said. “Within the space of six months I’ve gone from the guy that was bottom-ranked in the squad to going into the four.

“With it being the top boat, there’s normally a lot of pressure on it to win. We’re definitely going out there with the attitude to pick up a win. If we come back with anything less it will be a bit disappointing for us.”

Callum, who has competed in the national team for the last two years, explained how heartbreak quickly turned into elation after narrowly missing out on selection for the Rio Olympics.

“I was one of the stay-at-home reserves for the Rio Olympics but there was also a World Championships last year for all the non-Olympic events and I and the other reserve won gold in the coxed pair. 

“Turning round the disappointment of missing out on the Olympics to becoming world champion in six weeks was a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions.”

Callum, who is originally from Edinburgh, took up rowing at secondary school because he struggled at rugby and his parents did not want him to get injured.

After initially disliking the sport, he soon got the bug and was rowing everyday throughout secondary school. His talent shone through when he won a silver medal at the Junior World Championships.

After completing his undergraduate degree at Durham University, he joined UEL as a sports scholar to study for a master’s in Structural Engineering.

The University’s sports scholarship programme offers elite athletes flexibility in their course studies to accommodate training and also provides expert support in areas such as strength and conditioning, physiotherapy, massage, psychology and nutrition

Callum explained exactly how both the sports and academic support at UEL has helped his progression in rowing.

“They’ve been great for me,” he said. “On the sports side, it’s fantastic to use the great facilities here when I can’t make a training session.

“I’ve missed big chunks of time because of my training camps, so the lecturers have been really helpful with adapting my timetable.”