Chambers brings a wealth of competitive and coaching experience to CUBCPeter Spurrier

London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Richard Chambers has taken over the role of assistant coach, Cambridge University Boat Club (CUBC) announced earlier this week. Replacing Ed Green – who swaps the buttery for the blackboard, as he helps develop the rowing programme at Millfield School – Chambers has said he hopes to employ his UK Coaching Certificate in order to help turn the tables on recent disappointing results in the annual University Boat Race.

“It is a unique race with a fierce rivalry between the two universities,” Chambers said upon his appointment to the CUBC ranks. “I am looking forward to the 2017 Boat Race campaign and I hope to bring my knowledge of being a recent Olympic athlete into the set-up to help guide the current athletes but also the development of the CUBC rowers of the future.”

Born in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, the two-time World Championship winner in the Lightweight Coxless Four first tested the water with the Coleraine Academical Institution at just 14 years of age.

In 2003, Chambers moved to England to study construction management at Oxford Brookes University. As a member of the boat club there, he caught the attention of scouts from the national team, and such was his progress that within two years he had already won his first medal, a silver in the Lightweight Quadruple Sculls at the U23 World Championships, held in Amsterdam.

Sometimes competing in the same boat as his younger brother Peter, Chambers went on to enjoy an illustrious career in the senior team, spanning 10 years and three Olympic games. Having competed in innumerable WC regattas, European tournaments and World Championships, the 31-year-old is a veritable veteran of the water. Though securing second place in front of his fellow countrymen at the London 2012 Olympics must rank as one of his greatest achievements, Chambers is no stranger to silverware, with three bronze, four silver and three gold medals to his name.

Chambers recovered from an untimely injury to compete at Rio 2016, but failed to get past the semi-finalsPeter Spurrier

With preparations for Rio 2016 in full flow, an untimely injury forced Chambers to sit out of the 2016 World Championships with his lightweight sculls partner Will Fletcher. Yet, such was his passion for the sport, he recovered to compete in Brazil and despite performing admirably, Chambers felt bitterly disappointed with his fourth place finish in the semi-finals: “We came with one goal, and one goal only, and that was to win; silver or bronze wasn’t even an option,” he said. Nevertheless, they recovered quickly to win the B-final the following day, thus clocking seventh place in the overall standings.

In addition to his invaluable experience at the highest level of British rowing, Cantabs of a boating persuasion will also benefit from his great savoir-faire in the coaching department. Having plied his pedagogical trade at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford in the position of lead coach, Chambers then led the GB Lightweight Men’s Pair to fifth at the 2009 World Championships.

Referring to this “wealth of training and racing experience,” CUBC chief coach Steve Trapmore MBE has every reason to be very excited for the future of rowing at Cambridge. “He has been an integral member of the most successful International Rowing Team in the world for almost a decade and will further strengthen the momentum that we have built at CUBC,” he said. “I very much look forward to working with him as we prepare for the 2017 and subsequent Cancer Research UK Boat Races.”

In addition to these duties, Chambers will personally take charge of Goldie, the CUBC Reserve Crew. Named after legendary 1870s Blue John Goldie, Cambridge’s reserve boat prevails 29-22 over Isis, its unfortunately named Oxonian counterpart. However, the appointment of Chambers comes at just the right time from a Cantabrigian perspective: in recent times, the tide has turned Dark Blue, with Oxford having prevailed in the Reserve Boat Race every year since 2010.

Naturally, there is more to the rowing programme than just the famous Varsity race: as assistant coach, Chambers will also be tasked with preparing the CUBC squad for national trials and summer regattas. Acknowledging the great prestige that Cambridge holds within the rowing world, he said that “it will be a privilege to work with some of the greatest athletes in University sport”.

As well as enjoying working with great athletes, Chambers will have access to new, world-class facilities. Opening in Michaelmas 2016, the new £4.9 million Ely boathouse will provide four bays for all three University clubs – CUBC, the women's boat club and the men's lightweight rowing club. From a technological point of view, Project Ely will allow for the possibility of on-water lactate testing, thus enabling CUBC rowers to remain at the forefront of the scientific revolution currently changing the face of elite-level sport. 

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