Nearly a year after her record-breaking attempt to become the fastest woman to row the length of the Thames, we are proud to announce that our very own Naomi Riches MBE has been confirmed as a Guinness World Record holder.
On 17th September 2016 Naomi Riches, six-time world champion rower, London 2012 Paralympic champion and Thomas Client Development Consultant, took on her greatest challenge yet: The Great Thames Row. Naomi set herself the challenge of rowing 165 miles down the River Thames in a single scull, from Lechlade to Gravesend, with the goal of achieving the Guinness World Record for the fastest woman to row the Thames solo.
Since completing the challenge in a time of 47 hours, 59 minutes and 54 seconds, fast enough to qualify for the record, Naomi has spent months collecting evidence to submit to the Guinness World Records to secure the record.
We’re delighted that all her hard work and dedication has now paid off as she received official confirmation from Guinness on 8th September 2017 stating that she has been awarded this incredible record.
‘Fastest time to row the River Thames by single scull (Female)’
Time: 47 hours, 59 minutes, 54 seconds
As well as attempting the record, Naomi was using The Great Thames Row to highlight and celebrate the ability or those with a disability. For this reason, The Great Thames Row was more than just a personal challenge for Naomi, as it also allowed her to raise money for a charity close to her heart, IN-vision. The aim of the charity is to further research into Infantile Nystagmus, the condition Naomi was diagnosed with as a young child. Through her relentless fundraising efforts and commitment to breaking the world record, a staggering £48,000 has so far been raised for IN-vision, all of which will help support the research centres to find out more about the causes of nystagmus.
We spoke to Naomi after she received the news of her record:
How do you feel now that you’ve achieved a Guinness World Record?
It’s a very strange feeling to get this after all this time… we only finished sending the evidence to them a couple of weeks ago and I had forgotten about it as I thought it would take much longer. When Liz (IN-vision Charity founder and TGTR2016 project manager) called, I couldn’t believe her - it must be a mistake! She explained that she had to read the email about 10 times to make sure she wasn’t misreading it. It was the most amazing feeling of achievement and I am so glad that after the hard work of so many people that we got it.
What does this achievement mean to you both personally and as a sportsperson?
Part of the reason behind me doing this crazy row down the River Thames was (other than to raise money for IN-vision Charity) to draw attention to the ability of those with a disability - it was also to prove to myself that physically I can do something so challenging. Unlike in 2012 I had no team in the boat to feel the pain with me, it was just me moving that boat, though I had the most incredible team supporting me in every other way en route. It was a mental challenge almost more than physical and tested me in ways I had never been tested before.
What’s next for Naomi Riches MBE?
The next and most challenging part of my life is yet to come! I think it is time to live a normal life for a while both developing my career at Thomas International and making more of a name for myself on the motivational speakers circuit. That is going to be another challenge I can really enjoy!
Naomi is still continuing the fundraising effort for IN-vision! If you would like to celebrate her fantastic achievement and donate to this worthy cause, please visit https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/naomirichesmbe1.