Garth Holden

Club CUBC Men

Year of Birth 1997

Hometown Benoni, South Africa

Nationality South African

College St Edmunds

Undergrad/Graduate Masters

Year 1st

What are you studying? Real Estate Finance

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? The most interesting part of the course is applying classical economic models to dynamic urban markets in which public sentiment and psychology have as much to do with prices as location or construction. I’m hoping to work in the development space in Washington DC.

Future ambitions? Professional, marital and spiritual bliss.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? I exclusively live and associate with other rowers to make myself sick of rowing and to make my academic work seem interesting by contrast.

When did you start rowing, and why? I started rowing in Grade eight because all of my teachers were rowing coaches and they bullied me into it.

What was your first club? St Benedict’s College Boat Club.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Cambridge? Being surrounded by ambitious people who give freely of their time. You can invest as much dedication and energy as you have in reserve and the club will just give it back to you ten-fold, week after week.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I was captain of boats at St Benedict’s College, I represented South Africa twice at the Under 23 world championships, and I rowed at Yale University for four seasons. My biggest achievement would be being part of the Yale Class that won the IRA national championship for the first time in the club’s history and the fact that we never relinquished it throughout my tenure on the team.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? If yes, when? I have not.

Your favourite race so far? The annual race against Harvard in my first year at Yale.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I have gotten sick consistently right before every big race since I was 15, usually right before the start line. It tends to freak out the younger guys, but the guys who I’ve rowed with for a while know it’s just me going from flight mode into fight mode. I also think it draws the opposition into a false sense of security.

Your sporting idol? Tony Hawk.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? Bakkies Botha in his prime. South Africa is saturated with big rugby players who should be in boats.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? I tend to think of my dad and how much he sacrificed to get me to the point where I am today. I love rowing and realise that it’s a great privilege to be in a boat at all, never mind to be rowing at the level that I do and with the crews of which I have been lucky enough to be a part. None of it would have been possible without my dad giving up the things that he did to get me here. The only way I can make it up to him is by taking every stroke like it’s my last one.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? I used to play blues music in a dive bar with a friend of mine from Yale on Tuesdays.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? I live in a house with five other guys on the team and it’s been a lot of fun, especially during lockdown. We’ve pushed each other a great deal physically in the last month training in our backyard and it’s been great to have that support structure throughout what would have been an incredibly psychologically taxing period otherwise. We also love cooking and playing music in the kitchen. It’s been a different kind of season for sure, but finding Covid-safe outlets to bond through has made it every bit as rewarding.