David Tanner graduated in 1970, and went on to study as a teacher. He was awarded a PGCE by the University of London in 1971 and worked as a teacher, eventually becoming headmaster of a large community comprehensive school in west London.
In parallel with his teaching career, David coached rowing teams. He coached one crew, known as the 'Ealing Four', from novices to a silver medal at the World Junior Championships in 1975. He continued to coach them as seniors, winning World Championship bronze medals in 1978 and 1979 and culminating in an Olympic bronze in Moscow in 1980. He went on to coach the Great Britain coxed four to fourth place at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
In 1991 he was appointed manager of the Great Britain Senior Rowing Team, a role he has fulfilled ever since, including at every Olympic Games from 1992 to 2008. Initially he combined this role with running his school, then in 1996 he stepped out of his headship to become British Rowing’s Performance Director. David’s tenure has seen the most successful period in the GB Rowing Team’s history. At the Beijing Olympics Great Britain topping the rowing medal table with six medals. David has also presided over the introduction of Paralympic rowing to Great Britain and this was rewarded in Beijing where GB also topped the rowing medal table in rowing’s first ever Paralympics. In 2003 he was named 'Coach in the Spotlight' by the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Aviron (FISA, the international rowing federation) at the International Coaches’ Conference in Athens.
David was awarded an OBE for services to rowing in the 2003 Queen’s Birthday Honours and, in the 2009 New Year Honours, was made a CBE for services to sport. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Most of my time at Bristol was spent growing my passion for history and rowing; it set me up really well for an interesting career in education initially as a history teacher, then as a secondary head, and now in the challenging world of Olympic and Paralympic sport. Thanks, Bristol!
David Tanner (BA 1970)