Q&A with Victoria Thornley
A chat with Team GB Olympic medalist, Victoria Thornley CBE
Tell us a bit more about you, how would you describe your profession and what makes you tick… Where did it all begin for you?
I’m Victoria Thornley, Olympic Silver Medallist. I started rowing through a talent ID search in 2007. I had never sat in a boat before but the chance to be coached by world class coaches, with the goal of representing Team GB at the Olympics, was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
Luckily I fell in love with the sport and over the last 13 years have been wholly focused on delivering the elusive perfect stoke, 240 times down a 2km lake.
It is an addictive sport, one that requires immense power and endurance, paired with technical precision if you are to be the best in the world. What drives me is to be the best version of myself in anything I do. In rowing, that is squeezing out every bit of my mental and physical strength to be the best athlete I can be.
What inspires you to get up in the morning?
Right now it is about waking up to another training day, an opportunity to be better today than I was yesterday, to bring me closer to achieving my dream at the Tokyo Olympics.
What do you seek in life to help you make a difference?
To make a difference in my life I’m always seeking to make those small improvements every day, I see every day as an opportunity and in terms of my performance in rowing it’s all about those small gains I can make – I’m not always going to be at my best every single day but it’s about making those steps, and moving that forward to the end goal of the Olympics or the World Championships.
What does success mean to you?
Success for me is about when I’ve crossed the finished line at the end of a race, that I’ve done everything I possibly can to be the best version of myself and be the fastest athlete I can be on that day.
What does it mean to you to be prepared? For the day? For the next race?
Preparation is key in so much of what I do day to day, obviously the preparation for my training and the preparation for my racing, and what comes with that is the training that I do day to day but also the recovery side of things so it’s really important that I eat well, I sleep well and I’m healthy in every aspect that I can be to gain the marginal gains that I need to be the best version of myself on the water.
What is your approach to health, fitness and day to day wellbeing? What does that journey of self-care look like to you?
I see wellbeing as four main pillars. Movement, nutrition, rest/sleep and emotional/social.
Luckily as an athlete movement is part of my everyday life and something I could not live without. Even on rest days I will always get outside for a walk or gentle cycle. Good nutrition is not only fundamental to my recovery and performance but also my generally mental and physical wellbeing. When I eat well, I feel good. I have more energy, recover quicker and have a clearer mind. Rest and sleep I see is one of the most underrated pillars of wellbeing. Sleep is free and good quality sleep is integral to us all if we want to perform at our best in anything we do. The training that I do, the adaptation to that training happens in the recovery phase and when I’m resting so I’m trying to limit screen time and have relaxation where I’m either reading a book or the odd nap in the day is helpful for me. Priority for me is getting a good sleep, sleep routine and 8-10 hours a night.
Social interactions and connections to friends and family is what gives me energy. It is something I have missed over the last year, and it has shown me how important our emotional connections are to our overall happiness.
How would you describe your interior style, and is this reflective of your own personal style?
I enjoy classic and simple interiors. This is also in keeping with my personal style. I have key items in my wardrobe that I have been there for years, as I know they will never go out of style.
How would you say people describe you?
I think people would describe me as Disciplined, driven and loyal. I am always seeking to be the best at what I do every day. As a friend I’m fearlessly loyal, I have a good close group of friends and that means a lot to me. Friends and family are key to my everyday happiness.
How would you describe your day-to-day life in 3 words?
My day-to-day life at the moment, training for the Olympics, in three words is row, eat, sleep.
What are your top 3 key considerations when deciding on a new bathroom, and why?
1. Use of space. Bathrooms can often be the smallest rooms in a house so making use of the space with a good idea of the design and function is important. I would definitely say technology is a huge part of a good bathroom, how it works sleekly is very important and the style that goes alongside that is key.
2. How I want to feel when I spend time in my bathroom. For me it is more than just function, it is somewhere I wish to spend time relaxing. This would determine what products I installed, as well as the layout. The lighting is important to aid this, so nice bright lights in the morning and then softer lighting in the evening to relax.
3. The colour, ambience and theme. The wall colour and tiles are a key part for designing a bathroom for me. They are what finish off the whole room. They must be well thought out and finished perfectly. I also quite like some plants within the bathroom and things like that, it just helps to create a feeling of serenity.
How important is your bathroom routine?
The bathroom is the first place I go in the morning to wake up, it’s really important for me to have a nice experience when I first wake up as often through my training I’m very tired so it can be quite hard to get out of bed in the morning, but once I get into the bathroom that’s when my day starts, and that’s where I start to prepare for my training day, so it’s really important to feel clean and ready to start the day.
What is the most important feature of your bathroom and why?
I’d say the most important feature of my bathroom is the shower area. I spend a lot of time in the shower, I have three training sessions a day so that means at least three showers a day, so the refreshing feeling of the water and just that hygiene aspect is really key for me to prepare for the next session. My ideal shower is fully enclosed with plenty of space, uncluttered with great water pressure.
Would you choose your bathroom as a place to relax and switch off? Do you consider your bathroom a sensory escape?
I definitely use my bathroom as a place of relaxation. It is where I start and finish my day. A well designed and relaxing bathroom space helps invigorate me in the morning and unwind in the evening. One of my favourite self-care routines is to have a warm bath filled with aromatherapy oils, candles lit and reading a book.
What is your favourite Geberit product and why?
My favourite Geberit product is the AquaClean shower toilet and I definitely think my favourite feature of it is the heated seat – I spend a lot of time training in the winter and it’s really cold and icy outside, so it’s very welcoming to come in after a cold water session to use the toilet with a heated seat. The Geberit AquaClean toilet remote is great at simplifying my bathroom routine, it’s really easy to use and that technology I take as importantly in my rowing as well, it’s about the marginal gains every day in my performance, so technology plays a key part in my life.
Sleep is a really important part of my training because it helps me recover but often in the night I do get up to go to the toilet due to having to try and be hydrated all the time, so when I go to the toilet the orientation light of the Geberit AquaClean shower toilet is really helpful in helping me to get the toilet safely but then also it doesn’t wake me up too much in the process.
The Geberit Monolith is fantastic too. There is flexibility in its design and function. While maintaining the Geberit clean lines design, it enables you to fit a Geberit toilet in your bathroom without disturbing the existing wall. It also comes in different colours so you can match it to the style and theme of your bathroom.
How do you feel to be going to the Olympics?
I’m really looking forward to going out to the Olympics, obviously it’s been postponed for an extra year so I’ve had to wait an extra year to hopefully race out there and put my performance down, so it’s going to be really important for me to go out and show what the last five years of hard work has been all about.
What will it feel like to win a medal at this year's Olympics?
Winning a medal at this year’s Olympics would be an amazing feeling. I won a medal back in Rio and I remember the feeling standing on that podium and receiving the medal, and that’s what I’ve been thinking about and that’s been my motivation for the last 5 years – so it would mean the world to me to win another Olympic medal.