Erin Kennedy

Erin Kennedy MBE

Cox - Para-Rowing Squad
Club: Leander Club
Height: 160cm
Hometown: Wantage

Great Britain Rowing Logo

Intro

Erin is best known as the coxswain of the indomitable Paralympic coxed four and talking publicly about her journey with breast cancer and fight to return to health and get back to international competition

Growing up, you were far more likely to find Erin on stage or in the library than being on the playing field. Despite enjoying sports, Erin loved musical theatre and drama and was a keen academic which led her to apply to study History and English at Pembroke College, Oxford, where she specialised in early modern England, writing her dissertation on the cross-dressing cultural crisis in London’s emerging theatre scene.

Erin joined the college rowing team after a trial during Freshers Week and has never looked back. Despite the cold winter training and the lack of promised Pimms, the company more than made up for it and Erin was hooked. She describes rowing as the ultimate team sport, with the coxswain as the maestro of a powerful orchestra. The athletes can perform without them but a great coxswain should support individuals to deliver as a cohesive team.

Erin joined the GB Rowing Team just two years after graduating and won at her first World Championships in 2018 with the PR3 mixed coxed four. She has remained with the Para four and became Paralympic Champion at the postponed Tokyo 2020 Games. Erin is a world record holder and is also a three-time World and European Champion which makes her the only cox to ever hold all three titles at once. Erin was also awarded an MBE for Services to Rowing in the 2022 New Year Honours List.

In May 2022, Erin was diagnosed with breast cancer and, perhaps unsurprisingly for those that know her well, decided to fly out to the World Cup in Serbia the following day to compete. This set the tone for how she wanted to deal with her diagnosis and with the full support of her team, despite being on chemotherapy at the time, competed in and won the European Championships in August 2022, before taking a break from rowing to focus on her treatment plan.

Erin made her return to international competition in May 2023 exactly a year to the day after her diagnosis, following recovery from a double mastectomy just four months earlier. She was part of the crew that qualified the boat for Paris at the September 2023 World Championships and Erin celebrated her comeback by taking a four-year belated honeymoon to Kenya. She is working towards Paris 2024 and if she is selected, is planning on bringing her whole oncology team out to celebrate and thank them for everything they have done for her.

Erin has spoken very publicly about her diagnosis and shared every step of her treatment journey on social media, from fertility preservation to chemotherapy and a double mastectomy, hoping to show people that a joyful life is possible despite a cancer diagnosis. She is an advocate for early detection and self-checking and now works with a number of major breast cancer charities to raise awareness and funds around early detection.

Erin and her husband Sam run a Youth Club for Year 9+ and she is the go-to birthday cake baker for the Paralympic team.

On The Water

GB Competitive Record
Year Event Result Boat
2024 World Cup III
Poznan, POL
Gold PR3 Mix4+
2024 European Rowing Championships
Szeged, HUN
Gold PR3 Mix4+
2023 World Rowing Championships
Belgrade, SRB
Gold PR3 Mix4+
2023 World Rowing Cup II
Varese, ITA
Gold PR3 Mix4+
2023 European Rowing Championships
Bled, SLO
Gold PR3 Mix4+
2022 European Rowing Championships
Munich, GER
Gold PR3 Mix4+
2022 World Cup I
Belgrade, SRB
Gold PR3 Mix4+
2020 Paralympic Games
Tokyo, JPN
Gold PR3 Mix4+
2021 European Rowing Championships
Varese, ITA
Gold PR3 Mix4+
2019 Gavirate Gold PR3 Mix4+
2019 World Rowing Championships
Linz Ottensheim, AUT
Gold PR3 Mix4+
2018 World Rowing Championships
Plovdiv, BUL
Gold PR3 Mix4+
2017 European Rowing Championships
Racice, CZE
4 W8+
Year:
2024
Event:
World Cup III
Poznan, POL
Result:
Boat:
PR3 Mix4+
Year:
2024
Event:
European Rowing Championships
Szeged, HUN
Result:
Boat:
PR3 Mix4+
Year:
2023
Event:
World Rowing Championships
Belgrade, SRB
Result:
Boat:
PR3 Mix4+
Year:
2023
Event:
World Rowing Cup II
Varese, ITA
Result:
Boat:
PR3 Mix4+
Year:
2023
Event:
European Rowing Championships
Bled, SLO
Result:
Boat:
PR3 Mix4+
Year:
2022
Event:
European Rowing Championships
Munich, GER
Result:
Boat:
PR3 Mix4+
Year:
2022
Event:
World Cup I
Belgrade, SRB
Result:
Boat:
PR3 Mix4+
Year:
2020
Event:
Paralympic Games
Tokyo, JPN
Result:
Boat:
PR3 Mix4+
Year:
2021
Event:
European Rowing Championships
Varese, ITA
Result:
Boat:
PR3 Mix4+
Year:
2019
Event:
Gavirate
Result:
Boat:
PR3 Mix4+
Year:
2019
Event:
World Rowing Championships
Linz Ottensheim, AUT
Result:
Boat:
PR3 Mix4+
Year:
2018
Event:
World Rowing Championships
Plovdiv, BUL
Result:
Boat:
PR3 Mix4+
Year:
2017
Event:
European Rowing Championships
Racice, CZE
Result:
4
Boat:
W8+