Where Are They Now?: Sue Brown

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The Independent Online
AS participants in a high-profile sporting event, Boat Race crews are unusual in that the intense public scrutiny from Putney to Mortlake is preceded and followed by almost total anonymity.

Not for Sue Brown. In 1981, as a 22-year-old biochemistry student at Wadham College, she was chosen as Oxford University's cox, the first woman to take part. As such, to the popular press, she was also the first Boat Race story since Cambridge sank.

'It was a bit overwhelming,' she recalls. 'In the trials I was desperate to get a place in the crew and yet what seemed like hundreds of people wanted to keep me talking on the bank.' One reporter even asked if she would be wearing make-up for the race.

The result justified her selection. 'I steered extremely badly, but we still won.' She was hardly a novice, in any case, having coxed the British women's four in the 1980 Olympics Games in Moscow. She guided Oxford to victory again in 1982. After taking part in the World Championships, she gave up 'serious' rowing in 1986.

Today - aged 35 and only 9lb heavier than her 6st 12lb racing weight - she works in the research department of a multinational securities dealer in Tokyo. 'I came out first with the rowing team in 1982 and again, after university, teaching English. It is a lovely city; very comfortable, very safe. A bit sedate, almost,' she says.

Her husband, Thomas, is in corporate finance. 'We met at London Business School when I was doing my MBA, and settled here six years ago.' They have two children, aged three and a half and nine months.

(Photograph omitted)