ara rowing athlete

Frances Houghton

Frances was selected in the women’s quadruple scull for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games where she won her second Olympic silver medal, her first being in Athens 2004, also in the quad.

Frances is also a three times World Champion in the quad having taken the title in 2005, 2006 and 2007. In 2007 she medalled at each of the World Cups and won the overall quad title for the series. She raced in the quad in the 2008 World Cup series, finishing 1st and 3rd.

Frances started rowing at the Dragon School in Oxford, aged 11 before moving on to Kings School, Canterbury. She competed in her first World Rowing Junior Championships in 1996 at the age of 15, finishing 4th in the quadruple scull. In 1998 she rowed in a double with Debbie Flood winning the bronze, which was the first Junior women’s sculling medal for GB. She is also accomplished on the rowing ergometer, being the first Junior girl to break both the 7 minute and 6 minute 50 seconds barriers, and in November 1998 she won the junior title at the British Indoor Rowing Championships, where she set a new junior British record. She then travelled to Boston, USA, in February 1999 and returned as World Junior Indoor Rowing Champion.

Frances represented GB at the Olympic Games in 2000, finishing ninth in the double scull, and in 2001 and 2002 she sculled in the double with her former partner Debbie Flood. One year on from their Junior success they made an impressive Under 23 debut in 1999, winning gold at the World Rowing U23 Championships in Hamburg, again the first sculling medal of its kind for GB at this level. They finished seventh in the World Rowing Championships in Lucerne in 2001 and moved up to fourth in Seville the following year.

In 2001, as part of her studies, Frances spent a year living and training in Seville so the 2002 World Rowing Championships host city was well known to her. She took a break from her studies at King’s College, London in order to prepare for the Sydney Olympics but then resumed full time education, graduating in 2003.

In 2003 Frances raced in the quadruple scull, narrowly missing a medal at the World Rowing Championships having finished in 4th place, however this result secured a qualifying place for the Athens Olympics.

She won a superb Olympic silver medal in the quad in Athens 2004 after a great season in which the crew won the World Cups in Poznan and Lucerne – where they were the first British women’s quad to beat the Germans in this event. They qualified directly for the Olympic final by winning their heat in the event’s second fastest ever recorded time, and although they could not hold the fast–starting Germans, they came through the field to win an emphatic silver with great credit.

Between 2000 and 2004 Frances was unbeaten at the GB Rowing Senior Trials. She went on to race in the women’s quadruple scull all season in 2005, winning two World Cup golds at Eton and Munich, a World Cup silver in Lucerne and capped a superb 2005 with World Rowing Championships gold in Japan in September.

The 2006 World Cup brought more success with gold at each of Poznan, Munich and Lucerne.

At the 2006 World Rowing Championships the women’s quadruple scull fought an intense battle with Russia and were just beaten to the line in the dying metres of the race to take silver. In a strange twist of fate, it emerged in February 2007 that their Russian conquerors had failed a drugs test back in July, before the World Championship regatta, and were retrospectively disqualified. The British women’s quartet was therefore restored as rightful World Champions once more.

Frances has studied for a Diploma in Translation (Spanish to English) with the Institute of Linguists. This is to gain a qualification to translate written texts.

An avid radio listener – Frances is particularly fond of Radio 4 and 2. She likes cooking and counters homesickness by taking something quintessentially British on each trip overseas.

Current Address: Henley-on-Thames
Home Town: Oxford
Region(s): Oxfordshire
Personal information
Date of Birth: 19th September 1980
Height: 193cm
Education: Dragon School – Oxford, Kings School – Canterbury, King’s College – London
Rowing information
Club: Leander Club
Boat: Women’s Quad/Single Group
Role: Rower
Coaches: Ade Roberts
Learnt to Row: Dragon School, Oxford
Original Club(s):
Original Coach(es):
GB Competitive Record
Olympic Games
2008 Silver W4x
2004 Silver W4x
2000 9th W2x
World Rowing Championships
2007 Gold W4x
2006 Gold W4x
2005 Gold W4x
2003 4th W4x
2002 4th W2x
2001 7th W2x
2001 6th W8+
World Rowing U23 Championships
1999 Gold W2x
World Rowing Junior Championships
1998 Bronze W2x
1997 4th W2-
1996 4th W4x
GB Rowing Senior Trials
2003 1st W1x
2002 1st W1x
2001 1st W1x
2000 1st W1x

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