Issy Dodds will take to the water with her Oxford University teammates on Sunday afternoon to take part in the Women’s Boat Race and achieve her greatest goal.
Dodds left Kingston Grammar School in 2015 but learnt to row there and joined the Oxford Women’s Boat Club when she started at the university.
During 2016 and 2017 she was part of the Oxford reserves crew Osiris but acknowledged the Boat Race had been a goal ever since she was told it would be on the Championship course on the Thames from 2015.
“I’m really just looking forward to the opportunity to race. Racing is my favourite part of doing sports and I love a really ruthless race,” she said.
“I’m so excited to have another chance to race down the Championship course because it’s such an exciting opportunity and it’s the best race you can do in this sport, in my opinion.
“It is really special to me because I grew up so close to the course, we often came down here with KGS and saw the crews training and obviously saw them on TV racing.
“I always remember my coach when I was 16, we were training at the time and we were asked what big races do you know that are here?
“I said the Boat Race and he said the women’s boat race will be here from 2015 so maybe you guys will be able to do that.
“That has always stuck in my head. Training by the banks and us suddenly realising the 2015 Women’s Boat Race would be here.
“It’s quite amazing looking back over the whole journey through the last three and a half years knowing that I have completed my greatest goal, or hopefully will on Sunday providing no illnesses. I’m really proud.”
And while she might not have been in the main boat in the past two years, being in the reserves has helped her hone her skills even more.
“I think sometimes it’s under-estimated how much the reserves do because they do all the same training,” she said.
“We train together as a whole squad for the whole year and then, even in this last week, we are still doing the same training sessions.
“It’s just two different crews but we’re definitely just one team – that’s definitely something in the reserves that you learn and it’s something I’ve really brought through into being in the Blue Boat.”
Dodds, who is studying for a DPhil in Interdisciplinary Biosciences at Hertford College, said Kingston played a huge role in her love of rowing and admitted it was the place that really set her up for her career in the sport.
“I learned to row at Kingston, we had the option between a couple of sports and rowing seemed like a good opportunity because not that many places could do it back then,” she said.
“It was during the summer so it seemed like a nice thing to do and a good way to get fit.
“Kingston totally started my journey. They took me from being a total beginner to being good enough to start with Oxford Women because I went straight into OWBC from Kingston Grammar so they really spring boarded me into being able to do this.”
The women’s Boat Race takes place at 2.13pm on Sundaywith the men’s afterwards at 3.10pm.