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Boat Race 2024: Cambridge University Boat Club athlete Martin Amethier hoping to follow in footsteps of former Stanford University room-mate Drew Taylor

Martin Amethier is using a feeling of ‘unfinished business’ as fuel in his pursuit of a place in the Cambridge Blue boat.

Born in London to Swedish parents, Amethier started rowing in his early teens at King’s College School Wimbledon before moving to the place he now calls home – Stockholm.

Basketball was his sport of choice in Scandinavia, but his passion for rowing was rekindled upon his arrival at Stanford University in the USA in 2016.

Cambridge University Boat Club athlete Martin Amethier. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge University Boat Club athlete Martin Amethier. Picture: Keith Heppell

Amethier, who is on the MPhil in the Engineering for Sustainable Development course at Peterhouse, went on to enjoy three positive years on the other side of the Atlantic, leading to him being appointed captain of the rowing team for 2019/20.

But before the 27-year-old could fully get his teeth into the role, Covid-19 gripped the globe. The season was abandoned and Amethier left California with a feeling of what might have been.

He said: “I remember the week so well. We had training on the Thursday morning when we still felt everything was going to be happening, even if some of the Ivy Leagues had started to shut down.

Cambridge University Boat Club's Martin Amethier in the stroke seat at Trial VIIIs. Picture: Row 360/The Boat Race Company
Cambridge University Boat Club's Martin Amethier in the stroke seat at Trial VIIIs. Picture: Row 360/The Boat Race Company

“We were still locked into the season, but then having breakfast, we saw on the TV that everything was shutting down and then all of a sudden the season is over before it’s even really started.

“It hit me quite hard. I wasn’t going to race with those guys and while you’re confident going into every year, it really felt like that it was a very talented group. We were happy with what we were doing and it felt like we were building towards hopefully leaving on a real high note.

“To not be able to do that was pretty devastating. Obviously it got much worse for a lot of people across the world – the worst it could be – but it was still tough to take at the time.

“The feeling of unfinished business, I think there’s something to that. I’d like to have a more positive end to rowing if this is going to be my last year.

“I want to get more out of what I have in rowing. And it’s not just about a positive or winning end, I’ve realised this year just how much I enjoy it. To have the opportunity to be back and train as part of a team with a great group of guys every day, it’s really, really fun.”

It was at Stanford that Amethier struck up a close bond with Drew Taylor.

The two were room-mates and also co-captains for the campaign that never was.

Taylor would later head to Clare College, where he was a student on the MPhil in Bioscience Enterprise, and he stroked the Cambridge University Boat Club men’s boat to glory in the 2021 Boat Race in Ely.

“We’re in touch a lot. It was unbelievable to watch that race and watch him win – especially with him being plastered at the front of the TV screens as the stroke,” added Amethier.

“I ask him about different aspects of the season that he went through and there’s absolutely a lot that I can draw from him.

“Being so close to someone like him, that’s been through the whole process and has a good perspective, that’s really helpful.”

Like his close friend, Amethier harbours hopes of sitting in the stroke seat of a victorious Cambridge crew on 30 March.

In an effective eight, every member of the boat is the stroke in a way because you do not follow one person, so much as all follow the hull and make the rhythm together.

Nevertheless, given their close proximity to the cox and their role as custodian of technique and rhythm, it is one of the key positions in the boat.

He said: “It’s an interesting position, definitely. I’ve had some good coaches.

“I’m probably one of those people who might tend to put more pressure on themselves than you should. I think that’s easy to do when you’re in the stroke seat.

“In the end, everyone has to be together and in a way everyone is stroking from their seat. We all have to be together in the rhythm.

“Obviously you can facilitate some things in the stroke and it’s nice to be able to try to set up the rhythm that you like and hopefully make it easier for the guys behind you. That’s a cool thing you get to do in the stroke.

“I like the thought of being in a position where you can impose something on the race and really push the guys to get the most out of everyone.”

And were Amethier to follow in Taylor’s footsteps, it would mark the perfect way to potentially bring the curtain down on his career on the water.

Now in his mid-to-late 20s, Amethier feels that the time is right to return to full-time work in his homeland.

“It is very different (to rowing at Stanford). We have the Trial VIIIs and then the fixtures, but obviously the major focus is on that one race at the end of it,” he said.

“There’s a lot of different things that you’re doing and there’s the media aspect, which is new, but it’s all been really fun.

“In the end, it’s about the daily training with the team and that’s fun. It’s a process that I’ve enjoyed and felt thankful to be part of.

“It would be the pinnacle of my athletic career (to make the Blue boat). It would be an unbelievable honour to be part of that history.

“We’ve had some talks from people who have rowed at Cambridge over the many decades, and to be part of that and have them cheering you on, it would be a massive honour.

“And then obviously you hope that you can deliver for them. That’s what we want the most, regardless of who makes the boat. We want the Light Blue to win.

“Coming out of off Stanford, I’ve been working for a few years and I think it’s time for me to go back to work after this year.

“I’d had a couple of years away from rowing so it’s not impossible to think that I could return to it again at some stage, but it’s becoming a taller and taller feat to do. This might be all I have left in the tank.”

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