British Rowing appoint Louise Kingsley as their new Director of Performance. Kingsley was the interim Director of Performance after her predecessor Brendan Purcell left in October 2021.
Through a long and arduous interview process Kingsley saw off strong competition from Martin McElroy and Steve Redgrave. Other candidates rumoured to have been in the mix came from high performance motorsports and GB Snowsports.
Kingsley has been a long-serving member of British Rowing. Kingsley was GB’s Para Rowing performance director at Tokyo 2020 a role she took following a long stint as a GB Rowing high performance coach, after rowing joined the Paralympic program in 2006. She previously coached GB’s first junior women’s world championship medal in 1993 and became a high performance coach in 1997.
Kingsley is the first female to lead British Rowing’s performance programme since the advent of Lottery Funding. Penny Chuter was the trail-blazer that came before holding the position of Director of International Rowing from 1986 to 1990. One squad insider thought Kingsley was a safe appointment and a return to “Tanner-style levels of organisation”. David Tanner was Brendan Purcell’s predecessor. Kingsley’s term as GB Para Rowing performance director overlapped with David Tanner’s time as GB Rowing performance director.
Great Britain’s Para rowers will miss Kingsley’s leadership.* After a successful Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Giedrė Rakauskaitė described Kingsley as a “guru” and said “she has done a cracking job… sometimes it seems like she can predict the future”.
Reflecting on her recent appointment Kingsley said: “I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity to lead this programme. I’ve gained invaluable experience through leading our successful Paralympic programme and more recently as Interim Director of Performance, building solid relationships with our staff, athletes and stakeholders, which will help in my step up to Director of Performance.
“Looking ahead, it’s an exciting time for the GB Rowing Team, with funding for the next cycle secured plus all the learnings and positive experiences from the last few cycles will help us evolve into a contemporary and world-leading programme. This starts with the recruitment of new Olympic Head Coaches, so my immediate priority will be on this as we look ahead to Paris.”
British Rowing Chair Mark Davies led the recruitment process and said: “Louise is a highly-experienced and talented leader, and we are delighted to have her as our new Director of Performance. She beat a field of 12 high-quality applications from a host of sports and from across the world, and a shortlist of five, in a robust, two-stage process.”
The six-person interview panel consisted of:
- Mark Davies, Chair, British Rowing (Chair)
- Kate Baker, Director of Performance at UK Sport
- Robin Williams, double Olympic gold-medal winning coach
- Anna Watkins, Olympic Champion
- James Cracknell, double Olympic Champion
- Alastair Marks, British Rowing interim CEO
*Editor’s note (12th December 2021): Since publishing this article it transpires that Kingsley will take responsibility for both the Paralympic and Olympic programmes.