Rowing: Mairi Buchan excels after switch from basketball

Mairi Buchan, centre, shows off her gold medal

Mairi Buchan, centre, shows off her gold medal

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University of Edinburgh medical student Mairi Buchan has only been rowing little more than 12 months, but already she is one of the country’s hottest prospects.

A former GB international basketball player, the 25-year-old excelled at last weekend’s Scottish Indoor Rowing Championships in Bellahouston, taking gold in the women’s open heavyweight competition. She also broke the Championship record by 2.5 seconds, finishing the 2000m race in a time of six minutes and 56 seconds.

University of Edinburgh team-mates Emily Bowie and Anne Rodahl took silver and bronze respectively.

Growing up in Denny just outside Falkirk, Buchan took up the offer of a basketball scholarship in the US while completing a degree in biological sciences, studying at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. However, her return to Scotland and a move to the Capital has brought a fresh start both academically and in a sporting capacity.

“Basketball is in my past and it’s all about rowing now,” Buchan explained. “I had a lot of injuries and I maybe lost interest a wee bit in basketball, but it did give me a lot of amazing opportunities and set me up well.

“Rowing is really different to basketball. I needed something to fill my time and with my brother being a keen rower, I thought I’d give it a shot when I started at Edinburgh University last September.

“I pretty much went straight into the senior squad with my international background with basketball, so I had to get up to speed pretty quickly. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, both mentally and physically.

“Winning the Scottish Indoor title is certainly one of the highlights of my rowing career. But I’m just focusing on enjoying it just now as I’ve got more short-term goals for the season to concentrate on. I’ve only been rowing for just over a year so we’ll just see where it goes. My medical career is still very important to me.

“I’m away to Newcastle in a couple of weeks to compete in a 5K on the Tyne, which will be a great experience.”