Sir David Tanner, CBE
Former Performance Director, British Rowing
Sir David was educated at Abingdon School where he gained rowing colours for the Abingdon School Boat Club. His first career was as a teacher and at the same time he involved himself deeply with rowing. He first achieved a place in the vanguard of British rowing when he coached a team of 4 inexperienced boys from Ealing Grammar School and took them through to medal success in the World Championships and to a bronze medal in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
In the days before Lottery funding for Sport, Sir David sustained a successful career in education, latterly as Headmaster of a West London comprehensive School from 1987 until 1996.
Alongside this, he was appointed as Rowing’s Team Leader by the British Olympic Association for the Olympic Games In Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta1996. After the Atlanta Games, and with the prospect of Lottery Funding for sport, Sir David was appointed to the full-time position of Performance Director to the then ARA (now British Rowing). In February 2018, he stepped down as PD after just over 21 years in the role.
Since 1996 Sir David has made his mark on the Olympic Programme through the GB Rowing Team’s most successful period ever on the water. In this time GB has won 27 Olympic medals, including 12 golds, and this has sealed Great Britain’s place as the Leading Olympic rowing nation over the 3 Olympiads since Beijing2008.
His ambition and drive have also produced success for GB’s Paralympians. Rowing was introduced to the Paralympic Games at Beijing2008 and with little background in disability sport Sir David initiated a Para Programme from scratch in 2005. With only 4 Paralympic Rowing events at each Games, this has produced 8 Paralympic medals,- six of them Gold – to establish GB as the top Paralympic Rowing nation at Rio 2016
His impact has been felt out of the water too, creating the World Class Start Programme for Talent ID in 2002. World Class Start came to fruition at London2012, when it produced five out of GB’s ten Olympic Champions in Rowing, which was sustained in Rio2016. Four of those 2012 Champions were women, securing the first ever Olympic Golds for GB women in rowing.
Sir David was also the driving force behind the creation of the Redgrave/Pinsent Rowing Lake at Caversham. This opened in 2006 and is widely respected as the base for the GB Rowing Team’s High Performance Programmes.
Beyond this, he has led a successful development programme for Junior and Under 23 rowers on the world stage to underpin and secure the sustainability of the International Programme.
In sport beyond rowing he is currently a Director on the Boards of the English Institute of Sport (EIS) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).
Sir David was appointed OBE in 2003, CBE in 2009 and in 2013 received a knighthood from the Queen for Services to the London2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.