I will be rowing for Hong Kong too, says British hope Melanie Wilson

Former Island School student, who spent half of her life in the city, begins her Olympic campaign for gold in the women’s eight on Monday

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 August, 2016, 7:09pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 August, 2016, 11:17pm

Melanie Wilson says a little bit of Hong Kong will be battling alongside British teammates inside the women’s eight boat when they launch their bid for gold at rowing’s Lagoa Stadium on Monday.

The 32-year-old Wilson, who grew up in Hong Kong and studied at Island School, is representing Great Britain in her second Olympics, though she maintains strong links with the city of her childhood.

I was a Hong Kong kid: Melanie Wilson’s journey from Island School to Great Britain’s Olympic rowing team

“Definitely, Hong Kong is where I lived for more than half my life until I was 18 and although I have always had a British passport I felt very much a part of life there,” said Wilson.

“It was my home. I owe a lot to Hong Kong and the discipline that I learned as a swimmer at the Ladies Recreation Club there. That set me up for my future in top sport.”

Wilson is part of a crew who are capable of making history at the Rio Olympics. The British eight and one cox narrowly lost to the mighty Americans in Lucerne earlier this year and are looking to go one better in Rio. The Americans have won the past 10 Olympic and world titles.

Hong Kong-raised rower Melanie Wilson gunning for gold for Great Britain at Rio Olympic Games

But first, the British crew must emerge victorious against strong opposition in their high-stakes heat 2 on Monday, when they face Canada and New Zealand. Only the winning crew go through to the final while the others must fight it out in a repechage.

“The Kiwis beat us in the last world cup and that means that we will be looking out for them in the heat and will want to beat them,” said Wilson.

“But it’s the Olympic Games and only the top seven crews in the world have made it so everyone is in with a chance. We have had a good season and whilst we are not saying we are going to win here, we could have a chance [to get on the podium].”

The British team also comprise Katie Greves, Frances Houghton, Polly Swann, Jessica Eddie, Olivia Carnegie-Brown, Karen Bennett, Zoe Lee and cox Zoe de Toledo.

Preparations for all teams have been hampered by windy weather, causing some boats to capsize. Wilson, however, said the British rowers are raring to go.

“We’ve settled in really well and the boat is going well. Everyone is friendly here and we are enjoying the city,” said Wilson, who finished sixth with the British quadruple sculls team at the 2012 London Olympics. “We are lucky as we are in a slightly bigger boat so it’s easier to handle the conditions.

“ We feel prepared and we train in fairly inclement and windy conditions at home quite often anyway.”