James Woodford


Year of Birth 1999

Hometown St Alban’s

Nationality British

College St Catherine’s

Undergrad/Graduate Undergraduate

Year 3rd

What are you studying? Philosophy, Politics and Economics

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? International relations particularly in the Middle East and Africa. What motivates me most about my studying is its application to real life. While research into international relations can help us understand peace and conflict, we can employ this research to end conflicts, unite people and encourage international development. I hope to pursue this line of research as I apply to study an MPhil at Oxford.

Future ambitions? Work for a political think tank or international organisation or NGO. Conducting and organising research which makes meaningful changes and progress at an international level.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? Sticking to a strict regime where studying and relaxation are separated. I try not to work in my room and instead get to the library at 9 every morning.

When did you start rowing, and why? In my first year at university. I learned to row with the college boat club because I thought I had to try it to get a real experience of Oxford. I realised I wasn’t too bad at it and now it’s a huge part of my life.

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

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? The most important part of rowing is definitely the relationships and bonds formed within crews. The unique social experience has led to me enjoying the experience of rowing far more than I previously imagined. For me, the camaraderie created among rowers in the same crews are so special. They aren’t replicated in any other sport.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? My biggest achievement so far may be winning the college novice regatta at the end of my first term of rowing. We had such a good time it’s ultimately what caused me to carry on and try to break into the Blues squad. I’ve completed in Oxford’s bumps races and one or two external regattas, but the novice regatta has certainly been my proudest moment in rowing.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? If yes, when? No.

Your favourite race so far? It just has to be 2003, with the race being decided by such a small margin it’s certainly my favourite race. Of course it was great to see Oxford win too!

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I can’t have been in many more than 10 races - I genuinely don’t think I’ve had enough time to develop any habits.

Your sporting idol? Michael Jordan. During the winter I got a rib injury which confined me to the Wattbike for a couple of weeks. While I was cycling I decided to watch his documentary about his time with the Chicago Bulls. I felt so motivated to work hard in these recovery sessions and often put in an extra 20 minutes at the end of each session.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? Stan Louloudis, he’s an exceptional athlete who still makes incredible contributions to the OUBC family. He can bind any crew together.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? Determination. If I’m having a bad session, I just remind myself to make the most of it, because despite all the difficulties, the aches and the pains, I know that deep deep down there is nothing I’d rather be doing and one day I won’t have the opportunity.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? I make music and DJ with a friend which usually means I get to choose the erg playlists. We’ve got plans to perform at a couple of college balls but unfortuneately Covid keeps getting in the way. I’m sure we’ll get our big break soon!

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? Stay close with my friends within the household and try to keep up to date with everyone else in the squad. For me, rowing is my escape from Covid.