Former University of York student Tom Ransley has his eyes firmly set on rowing gold at this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Ransley studied History of Art at York from 2004 to 2007 and went on to bag bronze as part of the Team GB men’s eight at London 2012, but is determined to go one better in Brazil. Moments after the end of the race at Eton Dorney four years ago, Ransley told cameras that friends and family “probably think that bronze is good” but stated that he was devastated not to achieve what he and his team set out to do.
Speaking at a boat naming ceremony in his honour at the City of York Rowing Club, Ransley told Nouse that putting things right in Rio was uppermost in his mind at that time.
“Rio was in my mind as soon as I finished at London and didn’t get the result I wanted,” he said. “The whole team is built around the four-year cycle, you can’t underestimate the importance of that event. I’m really looking forward to it and I think we’ve got a strong group of guys.
“I hope we can represent the country well.”
Although his working life has been nothing like the norm for the last eight years that he has been a member of Great Britain’s heavyweight squad, at 18 he was faced with an age-old decision: that of which university to choose.
The former member of Halifax College retains fond memories of his time at York, saying, “I really enjoyed my degree.
“I had a great group of classmates and had interesting lectures. I also studied a subject I didn’t do at school so it opened up stuff I didn’t realise and that I learned a few things about. I made some really good friends who I lived with for a few years and I’m still in touch with them; one of them’s about to get married.
“York itself was great fun, there was lots of entertainment to keep you preoccupied! They were good times.” Ransley, who hails from Kent and went to King’s Canterbury School, gave up rowing at one stage to focus on basketball, in which he reached county level.
Upon arriving in North Yorkshire, the intensity of City of York Rowing Club’s approach to training and the chance to single scull saw him choose the Lendal-based outfit over the University’s own boat club.
He also enjoyed the chance to put down roots in the local community, commenting, “The club was an important part of my life for three years. It was awesome to go to university and to have the education, to expand your horizons and have a bit of independence.
“What I really liked about the club was meeting with people who live here and not just being wrapped up in the University bubble. I made friends for life throughout this club and it’s really important to me.”
The 30-year-old went on to take a postgraduate course at Cambridge where he took part in the Boat Race. When introduced to her circumstances, Ransley advised current York student and GB Under-23 rower Steph Clutterbuck to make sure she continues to enjoy the sport and retains balance.
“From my experience, I’d say try and make sure you’re still enjoying it and making decisions you can live with. I could have moved to a higher profile club but I couldn’t live with feeling like I’d let the guys at City of York down. I’d say keep studying hard and keep enjoying other parts of your life, but obviously commit to the training as well because that’s what makes it fun.”
Ransley has switched between four and eight-man boats across this Olympic cycle but isn’t bothered which one he competes in; he just wants to get his hands on the right coloured medal. “It will mean everything for me to get to Rio,” he said.
“You have to put a lot of things on hold in your life, to make sacrifices. You don’t want to underperform either. You’ve got to enjoy it and not worry too much about the outcomes and focus on the processes but gold is the focal point.”