Alumni of the SU - Gary Painter

For our next edition of Alumni of the SU, we introduce you to Edinburgh University alumnus and former Boat Club Captain Gary Painter.

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Picture of Gary Painter Gary Painter

For our next edition of Alumni of the SU, we introduce you to Edinburgh University alumnus and former Boat Club Captain Gary Painter.

"At my secondary school there was a very wide selection of sport, and having initially played rugby, I gave rowing a try when I was permitted to at the age of 14 as it is right by the river Thames. I found that I was much better at rowing than rugby so ended up sticking with it – I also joined a local Club. At school, my coach was Jim Clark, who was a part of the 1976 Olympic 8 that earned the silver medal. The Olympics were fully amateur in those days – there were no professional athletes for rowing in the UK, and they were competing against East Germany and the Soviets who were full-time State sponsored. He’s always been a great hero to me, and a great friend for many years now.

When I came to Edinburgh, I joined the Boat Club and during my time in there we got to compete all over the country. I became the Captain of Boats in 1984 and that was when I met Ben Helm and Tim Lees. Tim stayed on to do a PhD, and started getting coaches into the Club, having the initial dream of forming it into what it is now. Honestly, to see how far the Club has come since my time there is just wonderful. Since my mid-30s, I stopped competitive rowing and commenced umpiring and achieved my International qualification in 2003 which has enabled me to officiate around the World. I am now Chairman of the Thames Regional Umpire Committee and manage the training, examination, and standards of umpires in the region as well as contributing to National Umpiring management.

Now, my career in rowing is approaching an end, but I’m still perfectly capable and enjoying it immensely! In 2012 I got to work at the London Olympics, which was an absolute dream come true. I’ve also worked at two World Championships but as a National Technical Officer rather than umpire. Rowing has given me a lot, and I’ve now been able to give something back and meet some amazing people. I’d love to see Edinburgh University, my Club, and team GB all win more. For a long time, Scottish rowing was viewed as second rate but no longer, and I honestly don’t think it ever will be again. To be honest, I’m partly envious to see how good it is at Edinburgh now as well as being immensely proud and delighted!"

In our #AlumnioftheSU we seek to discover what sporting memories stood out for former students of our Sports Union, as well as learning how sport has helped them reach positive destinations in life after Edinburgh.
Do you have an interesting story to tell? Nominate yourself by filling out our nomination form here. To find out more about everything alumni, head over to our alumni page.


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