Jan Ole Ernst


Year of Birth 1999

Hometown Berlin

Nationality German

College Oriel

Undergrad/Graduate Masters

Year 4th

What are you studying? Masters of Physics and Philosophy

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? The most interesting part of my course has been the combination of problem solving and mathematical skills I’ve learnt in physics, as well as the analytical skills I’ve been able to develop as a result of studying philosophy. I want to do a DPhil/PhD in physics after my Masters and am looking to further explore quantum phenomena either experimentally or theoretically.

Future ambitions? In the short term I want to make a valuable contribution to research in physics. Thinking more long-term I would also love to become involved more closely with research or work in the policy sphere governing the implementation of new technologies.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? You have to be very diligent and efficient in scheduling and managing your time around rowing, so you make good use of every minute you are not training.

When did you start rowing, and why? I started rowing in Berlin in 2015 because I injured myself playing football. It was a great sport to take up as it rewards persistence and I have met some amazing people through rowing.

What was your first club? Berliner Ruder Club.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? The history and tradition surrounding the race, as well as the level of support we get from our friends, the alumni and the coaching staff. The intensity of the Boat Race is pretty unique and exciting, as you spend a whole season training for one race and no matter how good your crew is compared to previous years or how good you are on an objective scale, all that matters is that your bows cross the line before Cambridge.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I transitioned from sculling to sweeping as a junior by rowing with my college in my first year at Oxford. Then I spent two years trialling with Oxford University Lightweight Rowing Club and won the first two lightweight boat races on the tideway in 2019 and 20. I’ve also medalled at BUCS and obatined a full Blue in lightweight rowing. This year I knew I was looking for another challenge and wanted to make the step up to the openweight team.

Your favourite race so far? BUCS Regatta Championship Lightweight Four final 2019. We didn’t have a great repecharge and were seeded in the worst lane in the final, but managed to row through the field in the last 1000m advancing from 5th to 3rd, which was a really good feeling given that winning a medal at BUCS was also a necessary condition for obtaining a full Blue.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I like to go through the race in my head a few hours before and then I usually become quite introspective in the lead up. As soon as we’ve boated I try to be as mindful as possible of the present moment and try to let everything sink in as much as possible, because once a race has started everything goes so quickly.

Your sporting idol? Bastian Schweinsteiger.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? When you’re doing a really tough session and your body is telling you to quit, that is the natural evolutionary instinct kicking in. To combat that it’s really good to maintain a feeling of control over what you’re doing and think about small, short term goals.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? Skiing and surfing. I love the freedom associated with freeriding/backcountry skiing and surfing. They are my favorite occupations in the summer and winter respectively when I can spend some time away from rowing.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? By staying positive and reinforcing the fact that everyone is literally in the same boat. All of us are facing the same difficulties with regards to Covid disrupting our training, but we all have the same goal, which is winning the Boat Race in whatever format it will take place.