Her years at the University of Cambridge were formative for Melissa Wilson as both a climate activist and an athlete.
“As a teenager I was startled and unsettled by information in the media and watching ‘An Inconvenient Truth’,” recalled Wilson. “However, it was during my time at university that my concerns about the environment really grew. The evidence seemed increasingly stark and indisputable, and I grew to realize that without a thriving planet anything that I cared about (loved ones, natural beauty, human history, literature, the arts, living in and contributing to a fair and just society…) would be fundamentally threatened. Spending an increasing amount of time outside because of my sport — I took up rowing at university — also provided me with daily reminders of the wonder of our natural world, and inspired an increased desire to protect it.”
As Wilson’s rowing career powered ahead to a possible berth on Great Britain’s Olympic team in Tokyo next summer, so too did her passion using her platform as an athlete to fight climate change. She recently took on a leadership role with Champions For Earth, a group of mostly British athletes who are speaking out about the seriousness and urgency of the climate crisis.
And today Wilson becomes the 19th EcoAthletes Champion, adding her voice and passion to the global group that works to inspire their fans as well as other athletes to engage in the climate fight.
Regarding her teammates and competitors, Wilson acknowledged that, “Most [have reacted to my climate activism] supportively, but I think there’s still a gap between people offering quiet support and feeling comfortable to add their own voice to these issues. That is one of the things that is so exciting about EcoAthletes.”
But it is the ability to engage her supporters to take climate action that motivated Wilson to become an EcoAthletes Champion.
“Sometimes it feels like those of us without much political or financial power are left unable to effect much change,” Wilson shared. “But as athletes, we each have a megaphone. Becoming confident about how we can use it, and knowing that we have information to support our convictions, is such a powerful way to inspire others and ultimately effect change. That is why I’m excited to be part of EcoAthletes’ thriving, collaborative team, focussed on making progress regarding the vital issue of climate change.”
“Melissa Wilson gets it!,” said EcoAthletes founder Lew Blaustein. “And by ‘it’, I mean she understands that taking a positive, highly visible stand on the need for climate action, is not only necessary, it will be well received by the lions’ share of her fans as well as her fellow rowers. Melissa Wilson is already a climate champion; now we are ecstatic to welcome her as an EcoAthletes Champion.”
Melissa Wilson can be found on Twitter.
Photo at top: Melissa Wilson (front/right) and her partner Holly Hill train for the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota, Florida. The duo came in 4th place (Photo credit: Naomi Baker)