University of Bath graduate and London 2012 Olympic gold medal winning rower Heather Stanning has completed a six-month tour as part of the British military’s force in Afghanistan.
Heather, who graduated from the University with a degree in Sports Technology in 2007, joined forces with Helen Glover to become the first British women’s rowing Olympic gold medallists. The pair learned to row at the University of Bath.
Following her Olympic success Captain Stanning returned to her career with the Royal Artillery.
After completing intensive pre-deployment training and specialist training working with the Royal Artillery’s Unmanned Air Systems, her chosen specialisation, she deployed to Helmand Province in Afghanistan in April this year.
She said: “I am extremely proud to have deployed with my colleagues and as serving officer this was my chance to be tested on operations; it is what I joined the Army to do.”
As the Battery Operations Officer, she was responsible for planning and managing the sorties and tasking of the British Army’s ‘eye-in-the-sky’ unmanned aircraft, which provide vital intelligence for British and Afghan troops on the ground.
“To be in Afghanistan and to see what has been achieved and to be a part of that is really important to me,” she added.
Despite being based at Camp Bastion in the middle of the desert, Heather has worked hard to continue her training. As well as her busy job, she has maintained a punishing regime in the gym in preparation for GB Rowing trials later this month.
“I’m now really looking forward to getting back into a boat and the challenges I will face in earning my place in the British Rowing Team for the 2014 season,” she said. “I am going to have to work hard, but I can’t wait.”
The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall said: “The Army is about people who work hard and play hard. Heather Stanning is the ultimate example: Olympic gold last year; on the front line this year. Amazing!”
Heather and Helen learned to row on the GB Rowing Team’s Start programme at the University of Bath.
The scheme identifies young people who have the potential to become Olympic Champions and provides them with coaching and support services, rowing out of both the University of Bath and Minerva Bath Rowing Clubs.