Matlock rower Oli Wilkes selected to represent Team GB at Paris Olympics

Oli Wilkes is one of 42 rowers selected to represent Team at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.Oli Wilkes is one of 42 rowers selected to represent Team at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Oli Wilkes is one of 42 rowers selected to represent Team at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Matlock rower Oli Wilkes will look to channel his champion-beating energy into this summer as he chases gold at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Wilkes was one of the 42 rowers selected by the British Olympic Association to represent Team GB in the French capital this summer.

Heading to Paris with an eye for the top of the podium, the University of Liverpool graduate does in fact already have a pedigree for toppling world beaters.

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Prior to rowing at university, Oli was a competitive swimmer and raced against three-time Olympic champion Adam Peaty – beating him at freestyle during that time.

Wilkes said: “It would be nice to potentially meet Adam.

"I'm not sure if he'd remember me, but it would be nice, maybe for him to see someone that he used to race with as a kid.”

That said, it was rowing where Wilkes truly excelled in, having become a World Champion in Belgrade in 2023.

After being selected as a non-travelling reserve for the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Wilkes can’t wait to get on the water on the biggest stage.

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“It's quite special, a lot of years have gone into this kind of event,” he said at the team announcement at Kew Gardens on Wednesday.

“Being selected for the Olympic Games is really special. It's just trying to take it all in.

“We've got a lot of work to do, but this is a nice moment to be selected and to share it with the team.”

Wilkes hasn’t always been certain of his place in the squad, facing challenges alongside men’s four crewmate Matt Aldridge, with both contracting bouts of COVID-19 at pivotal times during selection.

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“It’s been stressful,” he admitted. “It’s not always been certain.

“Both of us have had bouts of COVID that have affected our trips to where we are now.

“There are points where you're fighting with your teammates to try and win yourself a seat.

“Unfortunately, they're your good friends as well, so it's one of those weird dynamics – but this year we've managed to retain our selection.”

Wilkes is one of over 1,000 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing him to train full-time.

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