Mark Hunter, MBE

Olympic gold and silver medal rower in 2008 and 2012 Mark was our very first ambassador and also set the bar! A true Londoner who took an unorthodox route to success is exactly the sort of role model we wanted to work with on our programme.

Hunter was born in Forest Gate which in his own words, “isn’t exactly a hotbed of rowing”. He really wanted to play for his beloved West Ham United FC but once he was shown a rowing boat, he never looked back and Team GB’s gain was West Ham’s loss! While learning his trade, Mark chose not to go down the traditional university route so many rowers take and instead became an apprentice.

In 2007, he partnered Zac Purchase in the Great Britain Lightweight Men’s Double Scull and dominated their division all the way to the coveted Olympic gold medal title they won in 2008 in Beijing.

After the Olympics, Mark took time out to become an assistant coach at UCLA, became an Honorary Doctor of Science from UEL and also was awarded his MBE in 2009 (for services to rowing) before climbing back in the boat to resume his dominance with Zac to win the 2010 and 2011 World Championship.

However, as for so many Olympians around this time, all eyes were very much fixed on the home London 2012 games and after qualifying so solidly Mark and Zac were pipped to the gold medal by the Danes in an agonising final finish. The event is all the more memorable for the emotional interview given afterwards that shows how even something as incredible as an Olympic silver medal can represent failure to the very highest of elites.

In 2013, Hunter announced his retirement from competitive rowing and has since focussed his efforts on rowing development, media duties and working projects such as Coach Core.
Watch Mark talk about his experiences and work with Coach Core partner London Youth Rowing.

At our Lords event in 2016, Mark spoke about how he really saw the value of employers collaborating to provide multiple experiences and opportunities for the apprentices to benefit all involved