North Yorkshire rower Zoe Lee awaits a defining month as she closes in on her two major goals for 2016 – a doctorate and a shot at history at the Rio Olympic Games.
The 30-year-old has spent the past six years juggling studying for a PhD in Geography at Imperial College London with establishing herself in the GB Rowing Team women’s squad.
Now those passions are coming to a head, with Lee’s final exam taking place just a week before the Olympic Trials.
“Hopefully I will be Dr Lee by the time the trials come around,” she smiled.
“I feel like I’ve set myself some pretty big challenges this year and it’s a bit scary to see them narrowing down to a final conclusion.”
Lee initially read Geography as an undergraduate at Oxford University, which is where she took up rowing having previously been a netballer.
She stroked Oxford to victory over Cambridge in the 2008 Women’s Boat Race and won gold in the women’s four at the following year’s World University Championships.
Since breaking into the GB senior ranks, Lee has been an ever-present in the women’s eight and helped to qualify the boat for Rio with a fourth-placed finish at last year’s World Championships.
She is hoping to be selected for the eight again, with the crews being selected following the Olympic Trials at Caversham, Reading next month.
“An Olympic medal with the eight would be a dream come true, it literally gives me goosebumps just thinking about it,” Lee added.
“It’s never happened before – there are a couple of girls who have raced in an Olympic final with the eight but no British crew has ever been on the podium at the Games. I’m really excited at the prospect of that.”