Team GB rowers, Karen Bennett & Holly Norton
Karen Bennett and Holly Norton
Karen and Holly are Team GB rowers who won silver in the women’s four at the 2015 World Championships, with Holly winning gold at the Rio Olympic Games! This year, Karen and Holly won gold medal in the women’s pairs at the opening World Cup in Belgrade and are looking in fine form for Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.
How did you get involved in rowing?
Karen: When I was 18 I saw an advert on the television for a talent ID project called 'Sporting Giants' for rowing, handball and volleyball. I applied and went for some testing and results showed I had the potential to be a good rower so I thought I'd give it a go.
Holly: My friends in secondary school were all on the rowing team, so I went to go and support them at a regatta when the school coach approached me and advised I give it a go. Once I tried it, I was hooked. There is something about being out on the water that makes me feel completely free.
Growing up, who was your all-time inspirational sports person?
Karen: Ian Thorpe - I swam from a very young age until I was 16. He was very successful and I loved watching him compete. I met him at SPOTY this year and I was completely star struck.
Holly: Kirsty Coventy (Double Olympic Champion swimmer). I grew up in Zimbabwe and absolutely loved swimming. Kirsty was a national hero and also a family friend, so I wanted to be exactly like her when I was older.
What advice would you give to a young, aspiring rower?
Karen: Work hard but most importantly enjoy it. There will be times when it's tough but when you get the result you want, whether it's at a competition or in training the feeling is incredible.
Holly: Make sure you enjoy it! It doesn’t matter how fast you are or what boat you’re in. If you enjoy the sport you will reap the rewards. Also, a happy rower is generally a fast rower!
What are your aspirations in rowing for 2017 and beyond?
Karen: To do my best to continue the legacy of the women's pair event. Being on the podium at international events like the world championships and continue moving forward and improving every day to Tokyo 2020.
Holly: To lay down good foundations for the rest of the Olympic cycle by putting myself in a position to row with the best people on the national team. With that, I aim to represent Great Britain at the World Championships each year and eventually be selected to compete at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you?
Karen: I secretly like doing a bit of cross stitch now and then.
Holly: I grew up in Zimbabwe and South Africa. It was sunny for at least 95% of my childhood – every child’s dream! Hence why I love the outdoors so much.
What are your top three sport nutrition tips?
• Make sure you have enough protein in your diet - I always like to have a glass of milk before bed to help that.
• A big breakfast starts the day well- porridge is my favourite.
• Don't be afraid to treat yourself every now and then - especially if you are training hard.
• Fuel your body according to what you have done and what your about to do.
• A glass of milk before bed – to help recovery.
• Every now and then, have that treat you’ve been eyeing out.
What are your top three training tips?
- Training consistently is more important than training hard.
- Recovery is key - you can only train as much as you recover.
- Set yourself small achievable goals to help you improve and get to your big target.
- Consistency is key! Cliché, yes, but keep at it and you’ll get better, faster, stronger!
- Understand that you won’t be your best everyday. That’s okay. It’s all still building.
- Control your mind. Master the headspace that gives you your best performance.
Can you give us an insight into your pre-race morning routine?
Karen: It's the same as every morning (if you've not done it in training, you shouldn't try something new for racing). Wake up, have breakfast, go for a row, chill for a bit then race.
Holly: Wake up. Turn on some music. Hydrate. Eat a wholesome breakfast – probably porridge. Hydrate. Stretch. Pre-race row. Hydrate. Light snack (banana). Relax. Find my optimum headspace. Final stretch. Go show them what I’ve got!
Have a question for Karen or Holly? Drop it in the comments box and we'll ask it!