• Phil Packer

Olympic Medallist and World Champion, Dr Cath Bishop, supports BRIT & the BRIT 2021 Challenge

We are delighted that Cath is supporting BRIT and championing the BRIT 2021 Challenge. Cath is a former Great Britain rower. In partnership with Katherine Grainger, they became World Champions in the Women’s Coxless Pair and won silver at the Olympic Games. Following a career as a diplomat, Cath is now a leadership speaker, writer and consultant.

Dr Cath Bishop - Olympian and World Champion

“Through my work with the Youth Sport Trust, The True Athlete Project and Love Rowing, as well as time spent with young athletes over the past twenty years, I am acutely aware of the importance of mental health for young adults and students.


The COVID-19 pandemic is compounding existing mental health issues and it is vital to do everything we can to help young adults and students now, in order to avoid them experiencing long-term mental health difficulties.


The British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) is making a huge impact in this area. Its achievements are quite extraordinary for a charity that does not employ staff and operates with minimal overheads. Their vision to support and improve young adult mental skills and fitness throughout the UK is underpinned by building and nurturing relationships with governing bodies and uniting the Education, Sport and Charity sectors. Supporting the mental health and wellbeing needs of young adults requires a collaborative approach. BRIT intends to deliver an annual UK-wide feel-good fundraising challenge and have designed their BRIT 2021 Challenge to be inclusive so that students and staff of all abilities can take part in many different ways, such as hand-cycling, cycling, wheelchair pushing, swimming, walking, jogging, running, rowing or paddling (canoeing, kayaking or paddle-boarding). Success is in the hands of all our UK universities and colleges to embrace the BRIT Challenge, entering teams and encouraging student and staff participation.

BRIT delivers inspiration to young adults and students through their BRIT Ambassadors. I am thrilled to be joining the BRIT Ambassador family and urge my fellow Olympians, Paralympians and athletes to join me and help support and improve young adult mental health and fitness throughout the UK. By helping to ask universities and colleges to take part in the BRIT 2021 Challenge, we will ensure students have the ability to participate as teams, improve their mental health and wellbeing, and raise vital funds.

I look forward to encouraging students and staff at the University of Cambridge to take on the BRIT 2021 Challenge and supporting them as they complete their 2,021 miles. It would be fantastic if all the Cambridge colleges could enter teams and challenge each other to a friendly competition to see who can complete the most miles, encourage the most amount of students to take part and raise the most for BRIT and their partner charities. I very much hope the Rowing Clubs will be integral to adding distance to their college team targets and, of course I'm sure we will enter more teams in the BRIT 2021 Challenge than Oxford!”

Dr Cath Bishop - Olympian and World Champion

Cath was educated at Westcliff High School for Girls. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Modern Languages from Pembroke College, Cambridge, a MPhil in International Politics from University of Wales, Aberystwyth and a Doctorate in Contemporary German Literature from the University of Reading. She learnt to row at Cambridge University and competed in two Varsity Boat Races in 1991 and 1993. In 1996, Cath represented Great Britain in the Women’s Eight at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA. Cath won silver at the 1998 World Championships in Cologne, Germany, when she competed in the Women’s Coxless Pair with Dot Blackie. A year later, she was World Indoor Rowing Champion.

Cath and Katherine Grainger competing in the heats at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece

In 2000, Cath represented Great Britain in the Women’s Coxless Pair at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Cath won gold at the 2003 World Championships in Milan, Italy, when she competed in the Women’s Coxless Pair with Katherine Grainger. In 2004, Cath represented Great Britain in the Women’s Coxless Pair with Katherine Grainger at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, where they won silver.

Cath and Katherine Grainger celebrating with their Olympic silver medals

Between 2001 and 2014, Cath was a diplomat in the Foreign Office. She worked in London; Sarajevo, Bosnia; and Basra, Iraq. Her appointments included Political, Projects and Press Officer at the British Embassy, Sarajevo, Political Advisor to the High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Head of the Political Section at the British Consulate in Basra and Deputy Director of the Stabilisation Unit in London.


Cath draws on her careers as an Olympic rower and conflict diplomat, combined with her experience of working with a wide range of organisations across sectors to raise performance, transform cultures and develop effective leadership and teams.


Her experiences in the Foreign Office and as an Elite Athlete have equipped Cath with leadership, negotiating skills, resilience, and the ability to deliver outstanding performance under extremely challenging circumstances.


Underpinned by the latest research from business schools, leadership theory and organisational psychology, Cath brings insights as a speaker, facilitator, consultant and writer into how organisations can develop a clarity of purpose, a constant learning mindset and genuine collaboration to achieve success. Cath’s expertise lies in building effective leaders, developing resilience and high performing teams, and Cath has a passionate interest in helping women to reach their leadership potential.

Cath and Katherine Grainger

Cath continues to be active in supporting the next generation of sporting talent, including through support of the Youth Sport Trust and the True Athlete Project. Cath has commentated for Henley Royal Regatta and the BBC Boat Races and is a regular reviewer of the newspapers on Radio 4’s Broadcasting House.


Cath is an Honorary Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge and the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and a Steward of Henley Royal Regatta.


In 2020, Cath published her first book, The Long Win: The Search for a Better Way to Succeed. The book explores our cultural obsession with winning and how it affects the way we approach work, sport, education and beyond. Through a combination of her own personal story and others’ stories, research and interviews, Cath looks at some of the consequences of a win-at-all-costs approach and propose a new way of redefining success, The Long Win.


In 2021, Cath was appointed as the first Chair of Love Rowing; British Rowing’s Charitable Foundation.


To find out more about Cath, please visit her website.

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Time remaining to complete the BRIT 2021 Challenge 

(1st July 2021)

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