Tokyo Calympian: Rowan McKellar, Rowing, Great Britain

Another member of Cal's 2016 National Championship team will be a first-time Olympian

The third of our Tokyo Calympians who will race in Women’s Four is Rowan McKellar for Great Britain. She and her GB mates will race against Australian Calympian Rosie Popa and American Calympian Kendall Chase.

Rowan McKellar

Sport: Rowing

Event: Women’s Four

Nation: Great Britain

Hometown: Glasgow, Scotland

Olympic Appearance: 1st

Age: 27 (24 May 1994)

Cal connection: Alumna (‘17, Sociology)

Cal accomplishments: As a part of the Varsity 8 boat, Rowan McKellar is yet another member of that 2016 NCAA title-winning crew in her junior season. She rowed on the 2nd Varsity 8 boat her freshman year before making the jump to Varsity 8.

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Had a great time at the National Wet T-Shirt Competition this weekend #nattychamps#missionextraordinary#gobears#blessed

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It’s official!!! Tokyo Olympics here I come! 🇯🇵🇯🇵

For Tokyo, Rowan McKellar will team with Harriet Taylor, Karen Bennett, and Rebecca Shorten in the Great Britain women’s four boat.

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Check out the cute picture below of Rowan rowing with her dad when she was 9 years old. She has come a long way to become an Olympian. McKellar started rowing at that age because her parents were rowing coaches.

Rowan McKellar chatted with British Rowing about her relatively late ascension in the British National Team. She did not make the U23 national team until two years after being at Cal. After graduating from Cal, McKellar finally got to represent Great Britain on the senior team at the 2017 World Cup where she helped their Eight boat to a Silver and won a Bronze in pair.

She would tell her younger self to be more chilled and has spent a lot of lockdown time gardening and baking, which is also very British based on all of the baking and gardening programs that are on TV there (and has since made it across the pond to the US).

What advice do you wish you could give your younger self?

I think I’d tell myself to relax and enjoy it a bit more. I get worried about a whole lot of things I can’t control and I’d tell myself to chill.

Other than training, how else have you been spending your time during lockdown?

I’ve been growing flowers, lots and lots of flowers! They’re all beginning to grow at the moment so it’s fun to see them progress each day. I’ve also been doing a lot of baking which I’m really enjoying.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a rower?

Honestly, at the moment I’d be a gardener… with baking on the side.

Great Britain obviously has had a great tradition in rowing. The return of Women’s Four to the Olympic Games this year is interesting since it requires both the strength of the eight but also the skill of the pair. Somewhat interestingly, most (if not all) of the national lineups have changed drastically since the 2019 World Championships. I can not find a good prediction on just which four boats will be medal contenders. I would not be surprised if Great Britain, USA, and Australia all qualified for the Women’s Four A Final.

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Best of luck to Rowan and her Great Britain crew in Tokyo!

Olympic Schedule

The women's rowing event at the Tokyo Games is scheduled for July 23-30 on the Sea Forest Waterway.

Date and Time: Sat 24 July 2021, 8:30 - 12:30

  • Women's Four Heats

Date and Time: Mon 26 July 2021, 9:00 - 11:20

  • Women's Four Repechage

Date and Time: Wed 28 July 2021, 8:30 - 11:40

  • Women's Four Final B

  • Women's Four Final A

  • Women's Four Victory Ceremony