Sunday, 14 April 2024
Sunday, 14 April 2024

BHF teams up with Gemini Boat Race as twin sisters vie for victory

SPORTING rivalries can often cause friction for families and next month the sibling bond is about to be put to the ultimate test as identical twins, Catherine and Gemma King are set to row on opposing sides for The Gemini Boat Race 2024.  

The 78th Women’s Race will take place on Saturday 30 March ahead of the 169th Men’s Race and will see the King twins in different colours for the first time. Used to competing side by side since they began rowing at age 12 years old, Catherine and Gemma had been participating in The Boat Race since 2018, both rowing for Cambridge. 

But this year the twins face the possibility of racing against each other after Catherine moved to start studying her PhD at Oxford University in September 2023. 

Catherine whose four-year PhD in cardiovascular science at the University of Oxford is being funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) said:

“After being a Cambridge ‘Light Blue’ for the last five years ‘switching sides’ to compete for Oxford is definitely a big change. The rivalry between the teams is strong but everyone is very sportsmanlike. We don’t hate the other side; we just really want to win.” 

But one thing the twins are united on is their support for the event’s new charity partner.  

Both research scientists studying PhDs at their respective universities, Catherine and Gemma are thrilled to launch the British Heart Foundation (BHF) as the official charity partner for The Gemini Boat Race 2024.  

The partnership is particularly poignant as it follows the tragic death of former Chair of The Boat Race Company Limited (BRCL), Tim Senior, who died of a cardiac arrest in 2023.  

The BRCL and the BHF hope the partnership will save lives by raising awareness of the risk of cardiovascular disease and create a lasting legacy by improving the chances of survival among spectators of The Boat Race by encouraging them to learn CPR via the BHF’s RevivR app.  

Chair of the Board of BRCL, Siobhan Cassidy, said:

“Despite the rivalry between the two sides we are all united behind a shared goal; helping the British Heart Foundation save lives. Together we can raise vital funds for charity’s ground-breaking research and help ensure that everyone is aware of lifesaving CPR and improve survival rates not only in the rowing community but across the whole of the UK.” 

The BHF is the biggest independent funder ofheart and circulatory disease research in the UK. Investing £100 million into research each year, the charity currently funds six Centres of Research Excellence at Universities all over the UK including Oxford and Cambridge. The BHF also currently supports £440m of life-saving research programmes across the UK including 48 four-year PhD programmes, like Catherine’s, across UK universities.  

Specialising in regenerative medicine, Catherine’s research project focuses on how to minimise the damage to the heart tissue following a heart attack. Her research could help the 270 people who suffer a heart attack each day in the UK and reduce the chances of them developing heart failure.  

Talking about the partnership Catherine said:

“The longer I’ve been involved in research the more interested I’ve become in cardiovascular disease. I’m playing a small part in how the charity can help to save lives through research. 

“It’s really exciting that the BHF is going to be the charity partner for The Boat Race. It combines the two great loves of my life! Rowing is such a big aspect of my life and now the sport will be helping to raise vital funds for research into heart and circulatory disease.” 

Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation said:

“Rowing, like research brings people together with a shared objective that can yield incredible results. As research scientists, Catherine and Gemma King know better than anyone that medical breakthroughs are key to unlocking future treatments and cures to save and improve lives. Hearing that Catherine is one of the next generation of cardiovascular scientists making these discoveries is inspiring. 

“Through our partnership for The Gemini Boat Race 2024, the BRCL and BHF will work to save and transform the lives of many more – by training a nation of lifesavers in CPR with RevivR, and by funding the world’s brightest minds at the BHF’s centres of research excellence at Oxford, Cambridge and universities across the UK.”  

To take on your own rowing challenge and raise funds for the British Heart Foundation, please visit: To learn how to save a life go to:  


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