Three former Abingdon School oarsmen are in the Oxford crew for this year’s Boat Race on Sunday 2 April.
Brothers Ollie and Jamie Cook and Vassilis Ragoussis rowed for the School between 2008 and 2011 with Vassilis at stroke for the 2011 Henley-winning crew. Ollie left Abingdon in 2008 and in 2016 became the first Old Abingdonian to win World Championship gold in the Men's Coxed Pair at the World Rowing Championships in Rotterdam. Jamie, who left Abingdon in 2010, retains his seat in the Oxford boat in what will be his third Boat Race for the University.
Speaking about his time at Abingdon, where the rowers compete in the School’s pink, Ollie said, “I'm racing in the blue boat for Oxford University on the 2nd and while I will be wearing dark blue, I will have my heart beating pink. Rowing at Abingdon gave me a huge amount; I may have been at school but it was at the boat house, the stretch of the Thames in Abingdon, going on training camps, the cold and wet afternoons and early mornings, the competitions and regattas, and above all the camaraderie of my friends where I got my real education. It’s a huge honour to be representing Abingdon in the Boat Race alongside fellow Abingdonians, my brother Jamie and Vassilis. The Boat Race is something I’ve always wanted to take part in, ever since the days of Robin Bourne-Taylor and Nick Brodie. The three of us will need Abingdon out in full support, on the bank or shouting at the TV!”
Ollie, Jamie and Vassilis returned to Abingdon at the end of March for the School’s annual Boat Club Dinner, accompanied by other oarsmen from Ollie’s 2008 1st VIII crew. Ollie, as guest speaker, talked about how rowing was not just about racing and winning but also about forming life-long friendships. He also spoke about the importance of being positive and how, after not making the boat for the VIII at the 2016 Olympics, he hadn’t given up, but remained focused on what he wanted to achieve and when the opportunity arose, he took it, and went onto win gold in the coxed pair at the 2016 World Championships.