Sarah Winckless

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Sarah Winckless
Personal information
Born (1973-10-18) 18 October 1973 (age 46)
Reading, Berkshire, England

Sarah Katharine Winckless (born 18 October 1973) MBE [1] is a former British rower. She won a bronze medal in Double sculls with her partner Elise Laverick at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, and was twice world champion, in 2005 and 2006.


Early life and education

Winckless was born in Reading, [2] was educated at Tiffin Girls' School and at Millfield, and began rowing whilst at Cambridge University, where she studied Natural Sciences at Fitzwilliam College. [3]


Winckless made her debut for Great Britain in the women's eight at the World Championships in 1998 and finished eighth. She then transferred to sculling, finishing ninth in the double at the 2000 Olympic Games. She was in GB quadruple scull crews that narrowly missed out on the medals at the 2002 and 2003 World Championships, finishing fourth both times. She teamed up with Elise Laverick for the double scull from 2004 on, producing good results in the world cup season before taking Olympic bronze in the 2004 Games held in Athens. [2] She returned to the quad for the 2005 and 2006 world championships, winning with Rebecca Romero, Frances Houghton and Katherine Grainger in 2005 and Debbie Flood, Houghton & Grainger in 2006. [2] She was unable to compete in 2007, due to injury, but returned to the GB team for the 2008 Olympic Games, racing in the Women's eight. [2]

She announced her retirement from rowing in April 2009. [2]

She was UK Chef de Mission for the Youth Olympic Games, served as the inaugural Chairman of the BOA's Athletes Commission. She was the first woman to be appointed as a Boat Race umpire, and in 2020 she would have been the first woman to umpire the men's Boat Race. [4] She serves on the Athletes Commission and on the Board of UK Anti-Doping. [5] She was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2015 for "services to sport and young people". [6]

Personal life

Winckless is a campaigner for Huntington's disease charities, having tested positive for the gene mutation while she was at university. [7] She is a patron of Scottish Huntington's Association. [8] Her parents are Bob Winckless, a three times Cambridge Blue (1967, 1968 and 1969) and Valerie Winckless. Her mother re-married to Olympic rower Michael Hart. [9]

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  1. "Birthdays". The Guardian . Guardian New & Media. 18 October 2014. p. 57.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Olympian Winckless quits rowing". BBC Sport, Rowing. BBC. 27 April 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  3. "Cambridge connections at Olympic Games". University of Cambridge. 30 July 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  4. "First woman selected to umpire men's Boat Race". BBC News. 5 January 2020. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  5. "Governance – Board". UK Anti Doping. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 June 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. English, Tom (15 July 2014). "Katherine Grainger: 'It's not fair, it's not how life should be'". BBC. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  8. Adams, Lisa (6 September 2010). "Former Olympic rower Sarah Winckless on why she is battling to raise money for the sufferers of Huntington's disease". Daily Record and Sunday Mail. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  9. "I became world champion and Olympic bronze medallist". Henley Standard.