Keynote Speakers

Johnathan Males, PhD

How is coaching more than just teaching your sport to athletes?

My passion for performance started when I raced in four World Championships with the Australian slalom canoeing team through the 1980’s. I was intrigued by the role the mind plays in peak performance, so I went on to study psychology and transitioned to coaching and sport psychology. Since 1993 I’ve worked with business leaders and teams in a wide range of industries, and now work mainly in London. As a sport psychologist I’ve supported medal winning athletes, coaches and team leaders at the last six Olympic Games, as well as working closely with Paralympics GB at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Paul Thompson, MBE

Three countries, different people, same problems… Yes or No?

Paul Thompson is the current Head Coach of Chinese Rowing. Previous to that Paul was the Head Coach of the British Women and Lightweights. He stewarded the British Team through its most successful period in Olympic History. Before that Paul was Head Coach of the Australian Women round team. Paul coached his first Olympic Gold medal winning Crew in 1996 with the Australian Women. Paul was also a founding Chairman of the British High Performance Coaching Foundation.

Mike Spracklen, OBE

How has my approach to coaching changed over my coaching career?

Mike Spracklen is one of the most decorated coaches in the Rowing World. Having produced medal winning crews in for countries. Mike coached Sir Steve Redgrave to his first 3 Gold Medals. Mike then went to Rowing Canada where he coached the Gold medal men’s eight and Silken Laumann to a Bronze at the 1996 Olympics. Mike Returned to the UK to coach the Women’s rowing team where he coached the first British Women’s crew to win an Olympic Medal, Silver in the Women’s Quad. Mike then coached in the USA and later returned to Canada where he coached three more Olympic medal winning crews.

Stream 1 – Technology in Rowing

Conny Draper, PhD

Is measureing the force on the gate misleading?

Dr. Conny Draper is one of the worlds leading Sports Biomechanists focussing on Rowing. Conny has many Olympic teams as her clients and spends her time travelling the world assessing the Biomechanics of crews and individuals. Conny is renown for being able to translate a vast amount of data from the devices she uses into plain English. Coaches often remark how Conny is able to get athletes and coaches alike to understand what is going on and how to use this information to make meaningful change. 

Conny completed a Masters in Sports Science in Halle-Wittenberg followed by a PhD at the Univeristy of Sydney and has held full time roles at the Australian institute of Sport. Since becoming freelance, Conny has also completed project work for FIFA, and is currently on the FISA Equipment and Technology Commission.

Professor Steve Haake

How the use of technology has impacted sports performance

Between 1990 and 2006 Professor Steve Haake taught Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield and set up the Sports Engineering Research Group which moved from Sheffield University to Sheffield Hallam University with 9 people in 2006: it is now the largest of its kind in the world.

Steve has around 200 papers and 9 books dating back over 25 years on the use of sports engineering to improve performance.  He has spent 10 years as Director of the Centre for Sports Engineering Research and was the Director of Research for the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine between April 2014 and March 2016 and has been on the ITF Technical Commission for approximately 20 years which helps set the technical rules of tennis world wide. 

Steve has worked with UK Sport since 2000 and led a team as a UK Sport Innovation Partner between 2008 and 2012, helping create technologies to help the UK’s Olympic teams improve performance. He was seconded to UK Sport as a Technical Advisor to audit the technological needs of UK Olympic sports and to help write a long-term strategy for the use of Technical Performance Analysis tools.

Adrian Cassidy

What should we be measuring if we really want to to impove performance?

Adrian is an former International rower for the British Team. His next steps were to move into coaching where he initially worked as a Talent Developement coach for Cambridge Univeristy Boat Club until 2001. At that point Adrian setup and ran the Talent ID programme in Cambridge (World Class Start), which produced a number of Olympians and medalists. 

Adrian then worked as a High Performance coach for British Rowing, focusing on the sculling until taking up the post as Chief Coach of Irish Rowing from 2009-2013.  Since moving out of rowing coaching, Adrian has completed a Masters in Executive Coaching at Ashridge Business School and has set up Ludum, a technology startup, focussed on managing training data in sport and helping coaches and their teams gain better insights into their improvement.

Special Workshop – Mind Games

Annabel Vernon

With nearly a decade at the top of Britain’s most successful Olympic sport, Annie has a proven track record in the cauldron of seven World Championships and two Olympic Games. She became a World Champion for the first time in 2007 and this set the scene for an assault on the Beijing Olympics in 2008, where their crew of four attempted to be the first British women’s rowing team to become Olympic Champions. Leading until the final hundred metres of their final, they were overhauled by the Chinese crew to finish second. Annie always had a keen interest in how the brain works, and the factors underpinning success. She explored this interest in Mind Games: Determination, Doubt and Lucky Socks – the psychology of elite athletes which was published by Bloomsbury in 2019.

Stream 2 – Coaching Culture

Derek Holland

Binding a community through a school rowing programme

An ex international athlete, representing Ireland at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Derek attended further education after the role was finished. Derek has built a highly successful junior rowing programme from the ashes of a community unified by rowing after the Bombings in Enniskillen.

Kieran Dews

Building a winning culture from a losing one

An ex international Sprint Canoe athlete who has turned his hand to coaching. He began his career helping athletes in his own club in Melbourne to gain internatonal selection. Once he realised this was more rewarding than competing himself, Kieran became a professional coach. Kieran, an engineer by education, brings a systematic and clear approach to building performance in a club environment.

Sam Wells

Building a winning culture from a losing one

Head Coach of the Oxford Univeristy Lightweight Boat Club. Sam masterminded the turnaround of this club and broadened its horizons to a more global perspective. Sam has coached at schools and universities both in the UK and South Africa.

Chris Shambrook, PhD

What if you were obsessed with building mental fitness first and endurance second?

Chris has been working in the world of high performance since 1996. All this means that he’s got lots of experience of supporting people to go from good to great. Chris takes this experience and helps to shape the core ideas and tools that we share in all of our work, from coaching to content. It’s his job to make sure we’ve got practical stuff to share with people to help them fulfil their potential.

Stream 3 – Performance and Health

Dr. Mark Homer

About A Senior Applied Sports Scientist with over 12 years’ experience in high performance sport, working for the world leading Great Britain Rowing team (GBRT). Provided physiology support in preparation for, and whilst attending multiple international training camps and competitions; including the Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. Experience of implementing racing, training and recovery interventions with coaches and athletes throughout the elite rowing system to improve best practice. Responsible for the strategic and operational leadership of the GBRT Sports Science & Medicine team, accountable for delivering a world leading service to rowers and coaches in the field. 

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Dr. Nicola Brown

I am a Senior Lecturer in the area of Health, Exercise and Physical Activity at St Mary’s University, Twickenham and contribute to a number of undergraduate and postgraduate modules including physiology, physical activity and health, anthropometry, health promotion and research methods. I have completed a PhD in the area of body composition and I am an active researcher and member of the Research Group in Breast Health at the University of Portsmouth. I am also an accredited ISAK Level III anthropometrist delivering ISAK accredited training courses to a wide range of sport and health professionals.

Ian Wynne

In the earlier years of my life, I was an elite athlete (Sprint Kayak, Olympic and European medalist)   Now I am Leading innovations @ Probiometrics using Vagal tone measures to research parasympathetic activity during sleep/recovery cycles. Providing insights in human well being, stress resistance and recovery quantification  Interested in all things high performance – inc Psychology and mindset, trained in elite physical conditioning & Holistic Lifestyle coaching. Level 4 coach, Studying a Masters degree in Performance Coaching, UK Sport ECAP graduate, NLP qualified.  Formerly, Lead coach at British Canoeing responsible for creating teams, coaches and athletes capable of winning medals in Tokyo 2020 and beyond.   Motivational speaker and conference leader, Specialising in turning adversity into advantage, planning for success and releasing your potential.

Special Workshop – How to Coach coxes

Peter Wiersum

Peter was the cox of the Dutch Olympic eight that won a Bronze medal in Rio 2016. He has been part of the Dutch rowing team for quite some time winning his first medal as the cox for the men’s lightweight eight in 2007. Peter now is the Head Coach for Skoll Univeristy rowing club.