Henry Gray


Year of Birth 1998

Hometown Woking

Nationality English

College The Queen’s College

Undergrad/Graduate Undergraduate

Year 4th

What are you studying? Chemistry

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? I actually really hate lab work which people normally think is the fun ‘hands on’ side of the degree. I think the most interesting part of my course is seeing how abstract theories can have applications in real life. For example, which metals end up inside your mobile phone? Or how are drugs made and how do they affect the body?

Future ambitions? I am interested in further study but this has been a very tumultuous final year so it has been hard to plan the future very well. I think it’s best not to worry and enjoy the time I still have here.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? I have found that being honest with tutors is important. Once they realise that you’re not just messing around on the river, but actually following a very ordered training program, they tend to be a lot more respectful and understanding of scheduling constraints. Then it’s just down to you to start working once you get off the water.

When did you start rowing, and why? My dad used to run marathons when I was younger but eventually suffered too many knee injuries and decided rowing would be a good sport to take up instead. He learnt to row at Weybridge Rowing Club and it was a lot easier at the weekends if I came rowing rather than needing to be taken elsewhere for football. So once I was maybe 16 I started coming down too.

What was your first club? Weybridge Rowing Club.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? Rowing in fast crews on a great stretch of river here at Wallingford.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I only started sweep properly once I came to Oxford, I did it for a year at my college, which had a really good community. But after that I wanted to try something more challenging so trialled for the university team.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? No.

Your favourite race so far? Even if the rowing isn’t always amazing, the experience of Summer Eights is unbelievable. It’s great fun having your race started by a cannon and trying to bump another boat!

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I don’t think I am superstitious at all. I just try to be organised and check things over, make sure I’m well rested, hydrated and fed leading up to races.

Your sporting idol? I support Fulham FC so pretty much anyone from their 09/10 Europa League final side was an idol of mine growing up. Maybe Brede Hange-land if I really had to pick one from that team.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? Someone who knows how to row. Brede might be good at 1.99m though!

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? I normally just count down the strokes that I need to do to get through pieces. There aren’t many tricks for this kind of stuff, tough is just tough. It helps to have confidence in the coaching staff and the physiologists though.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? I watch a lot more rugby than football now, so it’s been great to see all the rugby international matches crammed together after all the time off from the virus. I also worked at a bike shop a few years ago and learnt how to dissassemble and reassemble most of the components on them. So when I needed a new bike for uni I built my own.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? I try to keep motivated by focusing on what I can control, which is currently the erg, rather than what I can’t. There’s no point worrying too much since the restrictions are roughly the same for both teams, so it shouldn’t be too different from a normal year in some senses.