Annie Vernon spent nearly a decade at the top of Britain’s most successful Olympic sport: Rowing. Now a motivational speaker, the strategies that Annie has forged in the furnace of elite sport over two Olympiads are applicable to any business that is ambitious and hungry for success. She is able to share how to succeed at the highest level and pick yourself up after failing at the highest level too.
About Annie Vernon
Annie Vernon has a proven track record in the cauldron of seven World Championships and two Olympic Games. Annie’s approach is based on the belief that our values and motivations determine how we perform as human beings. Annie talks regularly about how she developed resilience after a crushing defeat at the Beijing Olympics by finding a better sense of self. She inspires audiences to cope with disappointment, maximise your potential and the potential of those around you.
Annie Vernon discovered rowing as a typical sport-mad teenager, and it may have remained a hobby had she not gone on to study at Cambridge University. Here she was thrust into one of the most rowing-obsessed institutions in the country. From this, she rose into the ranks of the British Rowing Team.
Despite being one of the smaller and least experienced members of the squad, she leapfrogged bigger and better athletes to become a World Champion for the first time in 2007 and this set the scene for an assault on the Beijing Olympics in 2008, where their crew of four attempted to be the first British women’s rowing team to become Olympic Champions. Leading until the final hundred metres of their final, they were overhauled by the Chinese crew to finish second. Their tears and grief on the podium were beamed by television cameras back to the UK and led to some tough questions when they returned. People questioned how they could be so dissatisfied and ungrateful with an Olympic silver medal.
The devastation of failing to achieve what the team were capable of forced Annie to re-examine her values, her goals, and her approach. She returned to elite sport for the London Olympiad with a newfound motivation of creating a perfect team performance.
Following Beijing, Annie put this to the test and after a narrow second place in the 2009 World Championships, all the pieces came together the following year when she was crowned World Champion for the second time with a stunning race in New Zealand. Following the 2010 victory, Annie became hit by repeated illness and injury and at one point it was doubtful as to whether she would even go to the London 2012 Olympics; but she battled back to win a seat in the women’s eight, finishing fifth. This was her last race for Great Britain.
Since retiring, she has moved into the world of journalism, being part of the BBC commentary team for the historic inaugural Women’s Boat Race in April 2015, and is a regular contributor to The Times. She communicates the highs, lows and humour of elite sport with wit and wisdom.
Annie has acquired a wealth of knowledge during her rowing career on how to keep herself focused on both Olympian and personal goals. She has presented to a number of City law firms and banks on issues around diversity and inclusion. Equally, her motivational speeches enlighten audiences into how not to give up in the face of adversity, both physically and psychologically.
"Annie speaks with clarity, without hesitation and in a straightforward manner holding the attention of her audience."
"Of all the interviews I’ve done, Olympic ones too, I felt that you understood best what I was trying to say, and asked the most thoughtful questions."
Caryn Davies, Double Olymic Champion
"Annie gave a warm and lively speech … Her speech was very well received by alumni who have requested to have her speak again in future. Her talk really contributed to the event, and brought a personal touch."
Alumni & Supporter Relations
"We knew we needed to provide a special evening and that Annie would be the speaker to do so. Her easy but assured ability to communicate inspired the audience."