Olympic celebrations for Imperial's silver medalists


Mel Wilson (third from left) and Zoe Lee (sixth from left)

Women's Eights at 2016 Rio Olympics

Celebrations were held last night for returning Olympians from Imperial's Boat Club (ICBC), who clinched silver at this summer's Rio games.

Imperial alumnus Mel Wilson and fellow ICBC rower Zoe Lee took the silver in a historic win in the Women’s Eight event - Team GB’s first ever medal in that race.

Zoe, Mel and Sport Imperial staff

Zoe and Mel celebrated their success last night

Mel, Zoe and the rest of the crew comprising Katie Greves, Frances Houghton, Polly Swann, Jessica Eddie, Olivia Carnegie-Brown, and Karen Bennett held off Romania on the line, finishing a nail-biting 0.12 seconds ahead.

The US, who were favourites in the competition, retained the gold they won in both 2008 and 2012.

Imperial’s Provost Professor James Stirling hosted the event last night to congratulate the returning Olympians, as well as recognise everyone at ICBC who contributed to their success.

Professor Stirling said: “The Olympics lifted the whole nation’s spirits this summer with two fantastic weeks of sport. As the competition progressed and the Team GB medal tally increased, the whole nation was gripped by it. We’re so proud of Mel and Zoe for being part of that success.

For every athlete at the games, there’s a huge team around them and both the College and the boat club were a huge part of that for us.

– Mel Wilson

“What is particularly impressive is how they combined their rowing training with their academic studies. Mel’s medical degree here at Imperial and Zoe’s PhD are difficult things to achieve in themselves but to the couple that with the intensive training needed for the Olympics is an incredibly impressive feat.”

Mel and Zoe were both presented with a bouquet of flowers from Professor Stirling before signing a commemorative photo of their medal winning celebrations.

For Mel, it was her second attempt at an Olympic medal having previously competed at London 2012. At the London games Mel, along with Debbie Flood, Frances Houghton and Beth Rodford, competed in the quadruple sculls - finishing just outside the medals in 6th place.

Mel Wilson, Professor James Stirling and Zoe Lee

'Stirling Silver'

Mel said: “For me, the eight was a relatively new thing for me as I’ve always been involved with the smaller boats. What we did really well was to behave as a team. We learnt about each other and learnt about ourselves and I think the team we built was the reason we had the success we did.

“For every athlete at the games, there’s a huge team around them and both the College and the boat club were a huge part of that for us. The margins between silver and bronze were so small that every bit of support we’ve had made a difference.”

Mel signs the commemorative photo

Mel signs the commemorative photo

Despite not attending Imperial, Zoe has trained with the ICBC since moving to London, alongside working on her PhD in Geography at King’s College London.

Zoe said: “Huge thanks to the huge support we’ve had from everyone at the College and all the athletes and staff down at the boat club. We wouldn’t be here today with these medals if it wasn’t for the support of our club.

“I’m not an Imperial alumnus but I was definitely made to feel as much a part of the family as everyone else. Even academically I’ve had so much advice on how to balance my training with studying.”

You can watch the full video of the final below.

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Jon Narcross

Jon Narcross
Communications and Public Affairs

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Email: press.office@imperial.ac.uk
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