James Innes Ker


Year of Birth 1999

Hometown Oxford

Nationality Scottish

College New College

Undergrad/Graduate Undergraduate

Year 1st

What are you studying? French and Spanish

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? The idea of a having a different personality in another language fascinates, and I enjoy using literature as an entry point to different cultures throughout history.

Future ambitions? I am aiming to get a First and beat Cambridge as many times as possible.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? I find that rowing is the key for me to succeed in my academics. The time management that has to be learnt while being a student athlete has allowed me to thrive in both academic and sporting environments.

When did you start rowing, and why? I picked up an oar for the first time as a seventeen year old, hoping to get fitter and stronger for the next rugby season. Unfortunately, I fell in love with rowing, and never played rugby again.

What was your first club? Radley College Boat Club.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? I am truly humbled to be a part of one of the most prestigious and elite training programmes on the planet. Rowing at Oxford has given me the opportunity to train with people who are of a level that I have never experienced. What makes this all the more exhilarating is the total lack of ego in the top athletes, and the squad as a whole.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? My greatest achievement to date was winning gold medals for Team GB a year after picking up an oar for the first time. The opportunity to race for my country was again something I never thought I would have - let alone to win on an international stage.

Your favourite race so far? A race against Shiplake College at Henley 2017 in the semi-final of the Princess Elizabeth. My school had been entirely written off that year, and had not beaten Shiplake at any previous regatta. Despite going a length down we went on to beat them, and make the final of the event.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I have to pee almost constantly in the immediate run up to a race. This is probably due to my irrational fear of being dehydrated before a race, so I drink my own weight in water in the hours beforehand.

Your sporting idol? Felix Byam Shaw, one of my best friends.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? I’d love to be in a boat with Jimmy Anderson. His ruthlessness and freakish consistency would be very well placed in a boat.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? When I’m in the hole, I think about why I’m doing what I’m doing - almost entirely for the other guys in the boat. I’ve had the privilege of being in some crews with my closest friends, and developed a foxhole buddy mentality.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? Like everyone else in the rowing world, I really took to road cycling over the Summer. Being a linguist, I also enjoy picking up bits and bobs of other languages. I’m currently learning Dutch, in the hope I can surprise my Flemish girlfriend for her birthday.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? Originally, I felt like this lock-down would be an impossible mountain to climb. Thankfully, I’ve been able to train with another member of the squad - to be blunt, he’s the only reason I turn up. Chris and I have got into a really nice routine of getting excited before and after every session, making sure we tick them off as they come. This has been immensely helpful for providing a sense of progression in what can feel like an eternity of sweating in my shed.