Posted: 28 July 2021
At the recent World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Račice, Czech Republic, Aberdeen’s Miles Beeson won a gold medal as part of the Great Britain’s men’s eight.
The 20-year-old, formerly of ASRA and who now studies at Yale University in the USA, was competing at his third age-group world championships after a silver medal in 2019 (JM4-) and a 7th place finish in 2018 (with fellow Aberdonian Robert Powell in the JM2-).
The Scot spoke exclusively to Scottish Rowing about his experience at these championships and his plans for the future.
1. Miles, congratulations. How does it feel to be an Under 23 world champion?
It’s a brilliant feeling. I’ve had to watch the race back a couple of times for it to really settle in. Personally, it was really special to get the gold and finally hear the national anthem in Račice which is where I did my first Junior World Championships in 2018 and missed out on a medal. I was part of an incredible crew that had a fun time throughout the campaign despite the turbulence of the pandemic.
2. You had a really exciting and tight finish in your final – tell us a bit about the race from your perspective?
It was certainly one of the most exciting races that I’ve ever been involved in. We were in 4th place with 500m to go but even then we were still actually quite confident, perhaps foolishly so! We had beaten the Germans in the heat and we knew that our middle 1km was strong so I knew that the other crews must have worked hard to stay ahead of us. We had to start sprinting with 750m to go and just trust that our rhythm would carry us through the field, which it did with only about 5 strokes to the line.
3. It has obviously been a difficult and challenging year for everyone – how did you maintain focus and prepare yourself for selection through the different lockdown periods?
For me, it was always important to have short term goals that could help me to get where I needed to be for selection. Events like the Scottish Rowing Indoor Champs were very helpful as they gave me and my housemates something exciting to look forward to and prepare for whilst we were working full time jobs and erging in the kitchen.
I was also lucky enough to be part of a great community at Molesey Boat Club that kept in close contact throughout all of the lockdowns and made me feel that I was not alone in working towards what we set out to achieve at the start of the season.
4. This is the third time that you have been to an age-group world championships – including an amazing silver medal at the junior worlds in 2019. How does this experience differ at junior and under 23 level?
I’ve been lucky enough to have three very different and enjoyable experiences, each time racing in a different boat class which all had unique sets of challenges. Despite the tough competition at Junior Worlds there’s definitely a noticeable step up to the U23 level. Nearly all the athletes competing have had prior international racing experience and are physically much stronger which leads to faster, closer races like we saw in our event.
5. You will be heading back to Yale to restart your studies in the new season. How do you juggle your rowing training with study, work and life?
I’d say time management is crucial if you want to stay on top of your performance both on the water and in the classroom, something I probably learned the hard way during my first semester at Yale. I am grateful that our coaches enable us to strike an excellent balance between our academics, sport and life outside rowing but in the end it always comes down to the individual to structure their day in a way that facilitates success.
That said, in the end all the time management in the world can’t replace having a real enjoyment for what you do. By choosing classes that I have a genuine interest in and always looking forward to the next session I find that the days fly past.
6. What are your longer term ambitions in rowing?
My main ambition when I started rowing at ASRA aged 13 was to one day make the Scotland team for the Home International Regatta. I’m yet to achieve this at the senior level so I might give that a go.
I would also add that the experience of racing for GB internationally and amongst Olympians at Yale has led me to enjoy the sport more than ever and it is now definitely a goal of mine to bring an Olympic medal home to the Dee one day. In the meantime, I'm going to focus on helping the Yale team to retain our national title whilst smashing Harvard crews at every opportunity.
7. If you had one top tip for any aspiring Scottish rowers reading this what would it be?
Be someone that people will miss when you aren’t in the boat. Whether that’s through the energy you bring to the crew on the water, the hard work you do in land training, or even being technically flexible and open to changing the way that you row. The best rowers are the athletes who get the most out of their crewmates.
Thank you, Miles - all the best for the future and we look forward to following your progress! Photos courtesy of Miles Beeson.