Sarah Winckless has been appointed as England's Chef de Mission for Gold Coast 2018 ©Sunday Times

Olympic rowing bronze medallist Sarah Winckless has been appointed as England’s Chef de Mission for Gold Coast 2018 and next year’s Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas.

Winckless, a two-time world champion, was the inaugural chairman of the British Olympic Association Athletes’ Commission and became a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in 2015 for services to sport and young people.

The 42-year-old led the British team at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing and was the first woman to be chosen as an umpire for the famous Boat Race, held annually on the River Thames between Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

She will be tasked with attempting to better the haul of 174 medals achieved at Glasgow 2014, which saw England finish at the top of the medals table for the first time since Edinburgh 1986.

“I am delighted to accept this exciting opportunity and lead England at the 2018 Commonwealth Games,” Winckless, winner of World Rowing Championships gold medals as part of the victorious women’s quad crews in 2005 and 2006 as well as Olympic double sculls bronze at Athens 2004, said.

“Having been an international athlete, I understand what is needed to allow athletes to perform at their best at major events and I am looking forward to working with Commonwealth Games England (CGE) to ensure that we are as best prepared as we possibly can be.

“The Commonwealth Games can be the first major, global multi-sport competition where young athletes have the chance to represent their country at a senior level so it is vital that Team England athletes are fully prepared to perform at elite levels in 2018. 

“Team England is a fantastic representation of modern England.

“We are proud to have a team that is diverse, inclusive and demonstrative of England in 2016."

Sarah Winckless, second left, is a two-time world champion and Olympic bronze medallist ©Getty Images
Sarah Winckless, second left, is a two-time world champion and Olympic bronze medallist ©Getty Images

Winckless added: “With the new Para-programme at The Gold Coast Games including an increase of 45 per cent more athletes and 73 per cent more medals compared to the record-breaking Para-sport competition at Glasgow 2014, we will have the chance to be even more inclusive of England’s hugely talented and inspirational Para-athletes.

“Team England’s unique combination of 18 sports combines athletes from a cross-section of demographic groups, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds and geographies - and we will support them all, equally.”

Winckless, selected for the position by CGE, will provide leadership to the England team in the build-up, during and after Gold Coast 2018, with the Games due to run from April 4 to 15.

“We are very pleased to announce Sarah Winckless as our Chef de Mission for the 2018 Commonwealth Games," CGE chief executive Paul Blanchard said.

"Topping the kind of performance Team England delivered in Glasgow is a tough challenge but with Sarah’s leadership, CGE is confident we will be able to try and build on this success and continue to grow as a leading English sporting organisation.

“Sarah’s experience, knowledge and skills mean that she is the right appointment for Team England.

"We are dedicated to supporting the development of the next generation of English athletes.

"Sarah shares that ambition with us, and in particular our President Denise Lewis.”