Ben Thomson


Year of Birth 1999

Hometown Worcester

Nationality British

College Pembroke

Undergrad/Graduate Undergraduate

Year 4th

What are you studying? Chemistry MChem

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? The first three years of my course covered a really broad chemistry course, studying many different aspects of chemistry. I found organic chemistry particularly interesting. Having sat my delayed finals, I have recently started my fourth-year research project. I am conducting NMR analysis on zinc finger proteins. The particular protein of interest is the PHD finger of KDM7B. The protein is involved in the demethylation of histone complexes in DNA and hence has significance in terms of epigenetics.

Future ambitions? I really have no idea. That is something that I am trying to figure out at the moment.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? It’s really important that you manage your time carefully. You need to be prepared to get up early in the morning to train before lectures, and get on with work when you get back from water sessions at Wallingford in the evening, regardless of how tired you are.

When did you start rowing, and why? I first started rowing in year nine at school. Up until then I had played a lot of rugby, but a lot of my friends were going to give rowing a go so I decided to as well. I really enjoyed it from my first session and have rowed since.

What was your first club? RGS Worcester.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? Teammates. We train long hours, often in miserable weather, and without all the chat and banter we have with each other it could easily get quite bleak.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I sculled at school from year nine through to year thirteen. While we weren’t the quickest crew, we trained hard and it was always fun. I learnt to sweep in my first year at university while rowing for Pembroke College and then trialled for the first time in my second year of uni. I went on to race in the Isis crew that year. Now I’m in my third year of trialling. The Isis - Goldie race 2019 is my biggest achievement.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? If yes, when? Isis - Goldie race 2019.

Your favourite race so far? Champ 4x- at National Schools Regatta in 2017 (my final year of school). It was one of the last races I did with my school mates and was probably the best performance we ever had.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I always eat porridge for breakfast on the morning of a race or ergo test.

Your sporting idol? Alistair Brownlee.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? Alun Wyn Jones: he is tall, a natural leader and has a big engine to sit in the middle of an eight and pull hard.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? Knowing that all my teammates are going through it with me always helps.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? I watch a lot of Netflix to unwind. I also love following and watching sport, especially cycling and Formula 1.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? I focus on controlling the things I can control and not stressing too much about anything else.