From spectator at London 2012 to medal chaser at Rio 2016 – Bedford rower Charlotte Taylor goes into the biggest year of her sporting life looking to complete a remarkable journey.
The former Sharnbrook Upper School pupil only took up rowing as a hobby in 2010 after moving to London to start work but her natural ability quickly became apparent.
Fired up by being part of the Dorney Roar that lifted Britain’s rowers to new heights at London 2012, Taylor broke into the GB Rowing Team ranks in 2014 and has rapidly established herself as one of the country’s leading lightweight women.
Now Taylor goes into the Olympic year on the back of a successful 2015, which saw her partner London 2012 champion Kat Copeland to European gold and World Championships silver in the lightweight double scull.
When asked if she can believe she is in this position, Taylor admits: “No! It’s just an honour and an amazing feeling to be part of the team this year and I’m really excited to see what happens.
“It would mean everything to get to Rio. I remember going to the rehearsal of the London 2012 opening ceremony. I wasn’t even anywhere near being in the team at the time but I was just filled with emotion and remember thinking ‘this is something I desperately want to be a part of.’
“I also had tickets for the first day of rowing and it was another of those moments when I stood there thinking, ‘I need to experience this’. To nearly be at an Olympics myself is amazing.”
Taylor is not allowing herself to get carried away, though, and knows there is a huge amount of hard work to do in the next eight months if she wants to line up on the spectacular Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas under the gaze of Christ the Redeemer.
The double scull is the only Olympic-class boat for lightweight women and, while Taylor and Copeland may have been the rowers who qualified the boat for Rio, their places are far from guaranteed.
Taylor sees that as a positive challenge, though, saying: “OK, there are only two seats for us but everyone across the GB squad is fighting for seats.
“I don’t feel like we’re hard done by, it’s just the nature of the sport and it’s something to embrace.
“It’s exciting. You can feel the atmosphere in the team is different, everyone is really preparing themselves for Rio, and that’s great – there should be a different atmosphere as it is a big year for all of us.”