Chris Medals

Freelance journalist, editor, author and rowing historian, Chris Dodd, pictured last year when trying out the seat properly reserved for the Master of the Watermen’s Company.

27 January 2023

By Tim Koch

Last night, Tim Koch watched British Rowing honour one of the most distinguished contributors to HTBS.

The 2022 British Rowing Awards took place virtually on BR’s YouTube channel on 26 January with BR’s CEO, Alastair Marks, steering the proceedings. It was an evening that saluted many of the people who devote so much time and effort to our sport.

To most people under 30, “Medal of Honor” is an “first person shooter” video game in which the player has the point-of-view of a seemingly indestructible American soldier. However, the “Medal of Honour” awarded by British Rowing is its highest accolade and is given annually for “Outstanding Service to Rowing.” First introduced in 1987, it is not presented lightly, and past recipients include the aquatic great and good – including Jürgen Grobler, Katherine Grainger, Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent. This year, the recipient “medals” for the power, not of his oar, but of his Olivetti. With over 50-years of rowing writing behind him, the 2022 British Rowing Medal of Honour is awarded to Chris Dodd.

All the other winners are listed on the BR website and the awards ceremony is available on demand on the BR YouTube Channel.

The press corps at the 2001 Boat Race. Chris (The Guardian) is on the left, Geoffrey Page (The Daily Telegraph) is in the middle, Rachel Quarrell (The Independent) is upper right, and Mike Rosewell (The Times) is lower right. Today, only the Daily Telegraph has a rowing correspondent, the much underused Rachel Quarrell.

Chris’ introduction to rowing came as a schoolboy cox at Bristol’s Clifton College. Promoted to stroke the school’s Second Eight, his crew beat the First Eight in the last race of the season. While this wasnot for the sake of a ribboned coat or the selfish hope of a season’s fame, it was, no doubt, rather satisfying. 

At Nottingham University, rowing was dropped in favour of editing the student newspaper and this led to a career as a sub-editor in the Features department of The Guardian beginning in 1965. 

In 1970, Chris began penning pieces on rowing. His 30-plus years as The Guardian rowing correspondent started at the same time as that of his opposite number on The Times, Jim Railton. With access to The Times online archive, one can see how differently the broadsheet newspapers treated rowing in the 1970s and 1980s from now. In 1970 for example, Jim had a remarkable 84 pieces on rowing printed in The Times.

Chris interviewing a member of Oxford’s 2007 Crew.

In a CV on his website, Chris continues:

In 1994 I became a freelancer in order to set up the River & Rowing Museum while continuing as the Guardian’s rowing correspondent until 2004, when I moved to the Independent. In about 2010 the latter lost interest in both rowing and its esteemed correspondent. 

I am a contributor to rowing publications and have been involved in the foundation of three magazines – Regatta, World Rowing and RowingVoice… 

I continue to write books and blog for the web site Hear The Boat Sing that is aimed at historians and rowing nuts…

For details of Chris’ books, see

Some 45 of Chris’ rowing related pieces for The Guardian are available on the newspaper’s online archive.

Hear The Boat Sing articles by or including mention of Chris are here.

An example of droll prose from Chris (aka his alter ego, “Hammer Smith”) that appeared in “Regatta” magazine in 1997 (click to enlarge).

After receiving his award, Chris wrote:

Friends, comrades, rowers: I am somewhat astonished as well as flattered to hear that I am to be awarded British Rowing’s Medal of Honour. Flattered because it boosts my ego; astonished because I have sometimes given British Rowing (once the Amateur Rowing Association) a hard time in print.

Perhaps British Rowing’s 2022 Medal of Honour was awarded to a “first person shooter” after all?


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