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Thursday, 23 April 2015

GarconJon meets Mark Hunter for Brooks Brothers

There are very few times in life where I've felt starstruck but holding the gold medal of Olympic Rower Mark Hunter has got to come close to that feeling. He may have achieved greatness but his humility and charm is powerful with his attention now turned to motivational speaking and his work as Programme Director of London Youth Rowing. I travelled to Henley on Thames to shoot him at his rowing club, photographed as part of a series of profiles for Brooks Brothers on iconic American menswear. Mark is the second of the series, keep checking GarconJon.com for more and see the rest online at BrooksBrothers.com.


Mark Hunter MBE, Retired Olympic Gold & Silver Medallist in Rowing

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? My younger years were spent is the East End of London before moving out to Essex when I was a teenager. I became interested in rowing and the sport then took me to Henley-on-Thames for over 20 years which was quite a change. I'm back living in London now so I've gone full circle!

Describe yourself in 5 words? Easy-going, Determined, Driven, Passionate, Articulate

What's your star sign? Cancer

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was a kid I dreamt of playing football for West Ham, but once I realised my skills weren't up to standard I decided I wanted to become a physiotherapist. It was only a matter of time before the Olympic Dream got my attention!



As a child who was chronically unfit, I always admired others who were naturally athletic. How did you first get into sport? I've always enjoyed participating in a variety of sports. My parents
were sporty and we enjoyed going to matches or tournaments together. Their support has been something very special. I'd just started rowing in 1992 when I had the privilege of meeting Sir
Steve Redgrave as a 14 year old and I got to hold his 3 gold medals. That's when I started to catch Olympic fever.

There always seems to be a defining memory for successful people - something that switched them on the right path. Was meeting Redgrave that for you?  I knew I wanted to go to the Olympics when I first watched it in 1992, watching TeamGB win 2 rowing gold medals and seeing them on the podium, hearing the national anthem and watching the Union Jack being raised. It really captured my imagination, and I knew what I wanted to achieve! When Lottery funding started in 1997 it made it possible for me and many others to become full time athletes, which was very motivating. I wasn't fully funded until 2001 but up until then I was working full time and training around work.

If you hadn't got the funding what was your career plan b? It was all about the Olympics! Luckily, it worked out.

See the full interview below.
What time do you wake up in the morning and what do you do first? When I was training I'd be up at 6.45am but now I have the luxury of getting up at 7.30am. The first thing I do is make sure my morning coffee is being brewed!

What's your daily exercise regime like? It used to be 3 training sessions a day. It would either be on the water, on the ergo (rowing machine) or in the weights room but now I enjoy exercising once a day if I get the chance. It's been nice to do other types of exercise not related to rowing - I've gotten into cycling and running. I've also done some skiing and snowboarding which I wasn't allowed to do as an athlete.


How does being an athlete influence your style? When I was a full time athlete I lived in sports clothing as they were necessary for training, and comfortable for recovery but I always enjoyed and looked forward to attending events so I had the
opportunity to dress up smart.

You’re wearing Brooks Brothers which is a classic American menswear brand, how do you think that fits into your wardrobe? The brand fits in perfectly with the things I do and I'm involved with now. I really enjoyed trying some new styles and colours which I probably wouldn't normally wear, so it was a little out my comfort zone. I'd definitely do it again. I like how versatile the clothes are; I was able to chop and change and still keep the classic style.

Who are your style influencers? Theres only one, James Bond!

What's on your horizon? This summer I'm getting married in America so maybe my groomsman will be wearing Brooks Brothers! I love San Francisco, you have the beach and the mountains at your fingertips. You get to watch incredible sport, you can make a quick trip to wine country and the food is delicious.

Finally, leave us with some words of wisdom... Have pride in your past but always be ambitious for the future! Also a quote that I love by Prefontaine: "To give anything other than your best is to sacrifice the gift."