Golden girl Jess shines at nationals

Rower Jess Leyden, centre, of Todmorden, on the podium after winning gold at the world junior rowing championships earlier this year
Rower Jess Leyden, centre, of Todmorden, on the podium after winning gold at the world junior rowing championships earlier this year

Teenage rower Jess Leyden’s year to remember continued as she was victorious at the national championships last weekend alongside one of the stars of London 2012.

Jess, 18, and Katherine Copeland, who won gold at last year’s Olympics, were both part of the winning team in the quad event at the championships, held at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham.

Jess, who lives at Shore above Todmorden, was delighted to win a gold medal, especially as it was the first time the championships were held under a new format.

“It felt really good,” she said.

“I was a bit starstruck when I got in the boat with Katherine.

“She was really nice and gave me lots of advice.

“It was really good to have that experience.”

Jess also competed in the double sculls with Victoria Thornley.

The duo won a silver medal, finishing just 0.8 seconds behind the Great Britain pairing who won at the world championships earlier this year.

“It was really good to be able to race against amazing people like that,” she said.

The two medals in the national championships are the latest success in a memorable year for the former Todmorden High School pupil.

She made history in Lithuania in August when she won Britain’s first ever gold medal in the women’s single sculls at the world junior championships.

The Hollingworth Lake Rowing Club member won two golds at the Munich Junior International Regatta in May and a pair of medals at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in January.

“I’m really pleased with this year,” she said.

“It has exceeded my expectations.”

Her focus now shifts to the national under-23 trials.

“I’ll be competing against people five years older than me, so I’m just going for the experience,” she said.

“I’ll just see how it goes.”