Heather Stanning is 2013 World Fittest Rower
Fitness Team is proud to select Heather Stanning as 2013 world fittest rower.
Here is her inspiring story for our audience.
Heather Mary Stanning MBE was born 26 January 1985. She is a British rower and
Royal Artillery officer. She is a Captain in the 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery,
and was given leave from the army to pursue an Olympic career with the British
team at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Paired with Helen Glover, the duo won a gold
medal, the first for their country of the 2012 Games and the first ever British
Olympic gold medal in women's rowing.
Stanning was born in Yeovil, Somerset, England, her parents Timothy and Mary
were Royal Navy officers. She was educated at Gordonstoun, Scotland, where she
was appointed Head Girl in her final year. Her school yearbook predicted that
she would be the first one to win an Olympic gold medal. Whilst in sixth form,
she won a British Army scholarship, and went on to study sports technology at
the University of Bath, England, she started rowing in 2006 under the Team GB
Start Programme. She graduated from University in 2007, before going on to
Sandhurst, alongside her brother, Martin, who is now in the Black Watch. Another
brother, Alistair, is a Navy doctor.
Stanning was commissioned from Sandhurst into the Royal Artillery in August
2008, based at Larkhill Garrison on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire. She holds the
rank of Captain and serves in 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery.
She was given leave from the army in 2010 in order to train for Olympic
competition, having first tried out for the British squad in 2009. After Helen
Glover gained Lottery funding enabling her to give up her teaching job, she was
paired with Stanning. The pair gave a breakthrough performance in the women's
coxless pairs in the 2010 World Cup Series, taking 9th place in Bled and 5th in
Munich, but were unable to race at Lucerne due to a bout of illness on Glover's
part. Coached by Robin Williams, at the 2010 World Rowing Championships they won
a silver medal.
In 2011, Glover and Stanning won the British rowing trials. They then went on to
become World cup winners, winning in both Munich and Lucerne regattas (beating
the 2010 world champions in the process) and achieved a further silver medal in
the 2011 World Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
On 1 August 2012 Glover and Stanning won the gold medal for the women's coxless
pairs at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. This was Team GB's first gold medal of
London 2012, and a first ever Olympic gold medal for British women's rowing. It
was in a time of 7 minutes 27.13 seconds, having led from the start of the race.
After the race, the BBC played a message to Stanning from her regiment, which is
deployed in Afghanistan.
Stanning has stated that she intends to report back to Larkhill garrison in
September 2012, and resume her British Army career. She is scheduled to begin
training for a posting to Helmand Province in Afghanistan.
On 2 August 2012 Royal Mail painted a post box gold in Stanning's home town of
Lossiemouth to commemorate her Gold medal. Stanning was appointed Member of the
Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to
gold medal rower Heather Stanning was back in her army uniform but she is
already thinking about Rio 2016. Rower Stanning, 27, has now completed her first
week back as a Captain at the army base in Larkhill, Wiltshire after she took
two years leave to focus on her Olympics bid. She won the first gold of the
London 2012 Games with teammate Helen Glover in the women’s coxless pair and is
now aiming for Rio 2016 but feels she will have to ‘prove herself’. She said:
‘It is really good to be back here, I am really fortunate that I am able to come
back to a working regiment.‘ A lot has changed here. The regiment physically
looks very different. I have missed working with the other soldiers and the
camaraderie there is with the team here.’
She took part in a special ceremony with her proud colleagues yesterday where
she was happy to be back in her position in the 32 Regiment Royal Artillery.
Stanning said: ‘I have also missed the day-to-day life of getting on with
things. ‘In terms of rowing, I am now back to work but I am going to stay fit.‘
I want to do trials for Rio in 2016. I think it is important that I do other
things as well as rowing, my fitness has been very specific over the last few
‘It will be good to do other things like weight bearing exercises. Running while
wearing kit on your back is very different from rowing. ‘I would love to go to
Rio but that is not a given because I have to earn my seat. I have to prove
myself.’ Stanning, who was born in Yeovil, Somerset, is due to complete a tour
of Afghanistan next year. She said: ‘The plan is to do a tour of Afghanistan
next year. It is really important for my career that I have the experience but
we are still working out the finer details. ‘I really enjoy my job but perhaps
the one thing I haven’t missed is the paperwork. It is just so nice to have a
sense of normality now.‘This is what I was doing before and life does move on
but it is still all there.’
She was cheered on by her regiment at Roberts Barracks in Wiltshire and the
troops in Afghanistan as she became Britain’s first gold medallist with Glover
on the fifth day of London 2012.They made history by becoming the first British
women to win an Olympic rowing gold medal when they beat Australia by about a
Stanning said at the time: ‘I am just really shattered and absolutely ecstatic
all at the same time. I just want to jump around. I could hear Helen beside me
saying, “Go on, keep going. They’re just behind us”. Stanning and Glover, a PE
teacher, were both spotted by the same coach, Paul Stannard, three years apart
and were paired up just three years ago.
Stanning’s father Tim is a retired Navy lieutenant commander and her two
brothers have both been on tours in Afghanistan.
Dated 23 January 2013