Interview with Olympic Rowing Gold-Medallist Pete Reed

Image of Pete Reed dressed in casual attire riverside

Today we are ‘oar’-struck with the opportunity to interview Olympic Gold Medallist Pete Reed, on what it is that keeps him motivated and achieving his goals on and off the water.

Being a Olympic Gold Medallist surely does not come easily, so what do you think it takes to make one and do you apply your same dedication to Olympic training in all aspects of life?
I think you have to be an intrinsically motivated person to be a sportsman. It requires a level of passion, determination and dedication that must be innate. If you fool yourself, then when the going gets tough then cracks start to form. I have seen many sporting hopefuls fall behind and out due to this. I am a naturally motivated person, but when you pour your life and soul into something like the Olympic Games for so long, you realise what a strain it puts on other aspects of your life. We all make sacrifices and find a balance, but I hope to get it right whilst maintaining my pursuit of gold. Sometimes it feels like at all costs. When that happens, you need to stop and think for a second: It’s only racing backwards in boats! It’s not that important.

A lot of business owners talk about getting burn out, just like athletes can when they over train. Your workload is far more strenuous than most professions. How do you keep your mental energy on peak performance?
Rather than calling it ‘over training’, we call it ‘under recovery’. I need to make sure that I am doing exactly the right things when I am away from the sweat in the gym. Food, rest, sleep and real mental relaxation are key to being able to perform day after day after day. It will also keep you at your mental peak. There is nothing more draining than losing sleep and not being focussed. Your performances will fall through the floor, you will lose confidence and that is another way to fall out of the team.

Your schedule is so demanding that you have to fit a year’s socialising into three weeks. What are your priorities when you get time to yourself?
After 49 weeks of solid training, my priority is to let my body rest. I never just stop and sit, but I do not go rowing. Rather, an active holiday with my girlfriend, Frauke, and I try to just relax and enjoy myself whist catching up with the people closest to me. Putting time into those relationships is important. Rowing won’t last forever, but hopefully I’ll still have friends & family long after the rowing has gone.

pete reed olympic rowing gold medalist beijing china for London 2012 olympics winning photoOne can assume that your most memorable sporting moments might be winning the Boat race and certainly Gold in Beijing 2008, but what is the biggest achievement in your corporate and professional life??

Certainly my selection into the Royal Navy aged 18 as a university cadetship entrant. There were over 2000 applicants for 15 places in my year. I wanted to join the Royal Navy anyway and there was no better way to become an Officer. I was only young and felt a lot of pressure during the 3 day interview. I knew my strengths but I knew I had a lot of weaknesses too…

“Since then, my confidence has grown in the corporate world, but I’ll never be more proud of the day I opened the letter that said ‘Congratulations’.”

What kind of books do you like to read and can you recommend any and why?
I didn’t read much when I was growing up, but more recently it has formed a large part of my relaxation time. I like to read novels to get lost in other people’s imagination (The Shadow of the Wind and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time) and also factual books to learn things. Biology, Astronomy and the German language are most recent projects.

I hear you are into your gadgets and new technology, what new items have you got your eye on? Anything for the house?
Quite a boring one but my washing machine is about to give up the ghost. I’m looking at this super Miele that’ll keep my kit clean without ruining the environment. It’s pretty expensive though so I’m going to wait until the washer funeral.

Is there anything that you’ve been up to that would surprise your family and are there any lifetime dreams that you aspire to create for yourself?
I’d love to climb Everest one day. I’d also like a pilot’s licence, although I’ve always wanted that. I don’t want too many years to roll on by though… the rowing time-warp takes no prisoners!

pete reed olympic rowing gold medalist beijing china for London 2012 olympics boat-yard photoYou’re in a team sport and life dreams cannot be accomplished individually. We all need support and help along the way. Who would you like to thank that has helped you achieve your ambitions.

My life has led me all over the place. I think I’ve been really luck and at the right place at the right time. Dad once said that you make your own luck and one of my close friends (who is very successful in the financial world) once told me, ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get’. The list of people who have supported me is extreme but key people, in chronological order and off the top of my head are:
My family, Lieutenant Commander Bob Dunkley, Fred Smallbone, Sean Bowden, Sally Hogbin, Jürgen Grobler, Andrew Triggs Hodge and Frauke Oltmanns. Thank you.

For all that are interested in keeping up with your daily schedule, what is the best way to follow you and your sponsors next steps?

The very best way for a daily update is actually on Twitter (@PeteReed2012). I tend to reply and I always read your messages. I have a website too that is due a lick of paint. It is Have a look there for more information about me, rowing, photos, blogs and sponsors.

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