Last week, we introduced you to our brand new Inspire to Aspire campaign, supporting talented souls in a bid to raise their profiles and showcase their skills.
Today, it’s time to introduce you to our very first candidate, Hugh Gallie.
Definitely one to watch, Hugh is fast becoming one of Britain’s most sought after rowers, and in a couple of years could well be representing GB in the Rio 2016 Olympics.
This year, Hugh was the fastest lightweight rower in the GB Start Camp Regatta (Start is the GB rowing team’s prestigious talent indentification and development programme) , and second overall out of 40 aspiring athletes. Having recovered from spinal surgery and returning refreshed from a year abroad in Spain, he has since been part of the winning boat in the British University Championships, as well as reaching the world-renowned Henley Royal Regatta semi-finals, and was the third fastest at the European University Games in Poznan. And that’s not all, as at the British Championships in October, he was part of the second fastest crew in the country, losing out only to the World and Olympic medal winners.
After attending his first GB summer trials this year, Hugh is now on track to represent Great Britain at the World FISU (world university) championships in France this September.
We sat him down and grilled him on his career and his plans for the future.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your sporting journey so far.
From a very young age, I was always very active. Growing up on a vineyard out in Portugal I was always outdoors helping my dad and the workers most days after school. Sport at school was limited and at the age of twelve I moved to England for boarding school. I quickly adapted to the way of life and was in my element with the different variety of sports and activities on offer. I joined the very small and newly-formed rowing team, taking to it quickly and rising through the squad to become the top sculler, and I was also the fastest boy on the athletics track in my year.
I went to Manchester University and joined the rowing team there for a bit of fun, and that’s how I was picked for the GB ‘Start’ talent development scheme after asking if i could try out for it. From there, I have taken part in several competitions around the country, representing the university and now my club Agecroft, and was Manchester’s first British university champion at BUCS regatta in 2013.
I am currently training in a double for Amsterdam Regatta, which is a very prestigious event worldwide, and competing against other international crews from all around the world. After being selected for the GB FISU team at this year’s final senior trials, in September i will be going to the world university championships where many top level rowers will be taking part. this will be my first race representing Great Britain.
What do you hope to achieve this year?
I hope to reach the A final at Amsterdam regatta and maybe even win it, and to reach the A final at Worlds and win that too. After September, my main goal is to medal again in the British championships and keep improving my speed and experience in my single, aiming to finish in the top 8 consistently at the 5k trials.
What is the ultimate goal?
To be invited down to train with the GB squad more often next year and hopefully join the world championship team, as the year before the Olympics is very important and when the final team is selected. I want to have a world champs medal in the bag before Rio and obviously the ultimate goal is going to the Olympics in Rio and Tokyo.
I set myself realistic, achievable goals as it’s the best way to consistently progress and motivate myself. I wouldn’t be rowing if I or others around me didn’t think I had a chance at making the squad and being the best, I have some of the best scores when it comes down to weights and power and they are a good indicator that I have a lot of potential.
What events of note have you got lined up in your diary for the rest of the year?
Amsterdam regatta, Henley Royal Regatta, British Sculling festival, the FISU World Championships, British championships and the first set of winter trials in November.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
Winning BUCS regatta, as it was a big win in terms of time but also for me personally, as I had only just come back from spinal surgery and a year abroad away from the sport.
How much time do you spend training?
Between 3-5 hours a day every day, no days off on Sundays or bank holidays unfortunately! Three days at Christmas and maybe two weeks in the summer if we are lucky!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I am very passionate about food, eating it as well as cooking it. Baking is a good pass time but I also enjoy cycling and playing team sports like hockey and football. Mostly though any spare time is needed to rest or work to be able to support my active lifestyle.
Describe your personality in a few words
I’d say I’m easy going, friendly, driven, passionate, understated and emotive. I am also very pragmatic and sometimes self critical, which can be borderline pessimistic.
Who inspires you in life?
No one single person, I guess, but my grandparents do inspire me to be tougher and more resilient and to just get on with life no matter what struggles I face. Living through a war and fighting in it as young men with no other option, where survival was a constant daily struggle, makes me think twice about giving up or not going through with a whole session.
What is your most memorable moment?
At the 2013 BUCS regatta i was eight seconds ahead of the next competitor, who was a world and U23 GB medalist. I had enough time and energy to nod at the crowds of Manchester supporters on the sidelines as i approached the finish line, they subsequently went wild at the sight of it. That was a great feeling and it really boosted my confidence that year when I needed it the most, as one year previously i had a tumour removed from my spinal cord and was faced with the potential of never being able to row again.
We’ll be keeping you up to date with all things Hugh over the coming months, so watch this space for further info.