In recent years, rowing has become more accessible to children and teenagers living in London through London Youth Rowing -LYR. Many clubs including Globe rowing club are working alongside the programme to encourage the future generation of children to enter what used to be considered an elitist sport.  

London Youth Rowing inclusivity has no bounds with 57% of those involved in the programme are black or people of colour and 41% of the young people rowing are girls.  

Oluchukwu (Oluchi) Ozonu, a young black member of Globe rowing club, shared her experience as a young black woman who has competed at national regattas such as Junior Inter-regional regatta, “Well at first [being a black woman in rowing] felt a bit nerve-wracking because it seemed like no one else there was [Nigerian] like me because even though I'm black and I know people there that are also black like 1 or 2 people. . . the people there are like really friendly, really nice.”   

Black history month is a time of reflection about the past and embracing the black culture and community that has been celebrated annually in the UK since 1987. Rowing is a prestigious sport with black female athletes such as Vwairé Obukohwo have participated in at a competitive level. It has been around since 5,800 BCE however the earliest regatta is recorded to take place on the 16th September 1274. Black athlete Ifeoluwa Julia Olawumi started indoor rowing at her school Townley Grammar and further progressed to joining Globe Rowing Club, eventually, she was awarded a full scholarship to the University of Tulsa and medalling silver at the American Athletic Conference Regatta. 

Julia talked about her experience “I used to be able to count on one hand how many black people I saw. The first time I did GB Trials I saw one other black girl and I was in complete shock.” “I got used to the lack of diversity, but it was tough.” She then went on and had a message for any future athletes; “Never be afraid to be proud, speak up about something you are unhappy with, call out bullying as you see it . . .. The biggest of all, never make yourself smaller to make others feel more comfortable." 

Rowing has progressed immensely since the first Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge boat race of 1829. To be able as a black woman, to get so far in such a sport is an incredible achievement and many young black people, girls and non-binary people should aspire to Julia Oluwumi regardless of their athletic ability or discipline. “Black girl joy is the most important thing to me, and I hope you never shrink away from it!” Julia Oluwumi.