Felix Kwok is swapping boardrooms for boats and hopes securing a scholarship at Harvard can propel him to success both on and off the water. Hampstead’s Felix, 18, is the first-team rowing captain at St Paul’s School and also previously scooped men’s eight junior gold for Great Britain at the Coupe de la Jeunesse in Italy.
And his rowing brawn is also supplemented by no shortage of brainpower, with Felix studying A-Levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Computing as well as starting up a new business, Brotein, alongside brothers Dominic, 26, and Philip, 24.
Brotein is a brand seeking to exploit a clear gap in the protein market, placing an explicit emphasis on mental health and with 10 per cent of all profits going to men’s mental health charities.
Felix knows broadening horizons is important but on the water, admits he can’t help but feel the pressure as he bids to follow his St Paul’s predecessors in making the leap across the pond.
“Harvard would definitely be my top choice – there are a lot of St Paul’s guys already there, so to row with them would be amazing,” he said. “It would be awesome. That would definitely be the whole dream. There’s a bit of a joke it’s the St Paul’s pathway – I think every captain of the boat club has gone for the past three or four years, so it’s a bit of a legacy leading there.
“I feel a little bit of pressure [to follow in their footsteps], for sure! But it’s a good sense of pressure. Obviously the rowing facilities are amazing, and it’s such an enjoyable place – the boat club is on the campus and that blends really well with the academic side.
“The rowing in the US is just a little bit more exciting than in the UK – in the UK there’s only really Oxford and Cambridge and they only really race once a year, whereas in the US there are races almost every week in the summer season, which is really exciting.”
Felix started rowing in his final year at St Paul’s Under School and has embarked on a thrilling career in the water. He represented the Junior GB team in Italy one year early after also being catapulted into his school’s first-team boat prematurely, an experience that paved the way for his ascent to leading the school’s principal boat.
Felix is a dexterous juggler of life in sport and beyond, with him and his brothers’ new company being set up at the start of November to combine maximising physical performance with combating mental health issues. Felix, Dominic and Philip have been raised by parents, Frederick and Nicolette, in North London and reckon the sky is the limit as they set out in the business world.
“We all thought there are so many protein brands but you can’t ever really choose which one to go for,” he added. “We wanted to stand for mental health, which is a really important thing. It’s a real community that we wanted to set up, and everyone who buys it is a ‘bro’ and is part of something bigger.
“It’s definitely a venture I want to continue further on – building a community and hopefully, soon enough, it will be a worldwide thing. That’s definitely the ambition and would be the dream – building the community of bros and at the same time really raising awareness of mental health.”
Felix, whose rowing hero is two-time Olympic gold medallist and New Zealander Hamish Bond, is one of 10 athletes being financially supported by both SportsAid and Gateley - a leading legal and professional services group - as part of an innovative new partnership.
The support’s financial assistance is supplemented by personal development opportunities and the impact of the funding is not lost on Felix. The precocious teenager is a deep thinker about his sport and remains acutely aware that rowing lacks the visibility, funding or profile of many of Britain’s more popular sports.
He hopes SportsAid and Gateley’s support can propel him to glory while races being made shorter, to maximise drama, can catapult the sport into the big time.
“It’s really incredible – I’m really proud to be nominated for the support and actually get the award, and it means a lot to be recognised,” he said. “There’s not a whole lot of money in the sport or recognition because it’s not broadcasted in the same way other sports are, so to be able to be recognised with the effort you put in is really amazing.
“To a non-rower, it’s quite a boring sport to watch. I’ve heard a lot about making events shorter which would definitely make it more exciting.
“I certainly hope rowing pivots towards that – I think if it doesn’t it could possibly die out like some sports are. If rowing goes down that path, not flourishing like some sports have in recent years, that will be really sad. But if it goes down the other path it can be something really huge.”
Gateley is a legal and professional services group working with forward thinkers and new talent, in both business and in sport. They are proudly partnering with SportsAid to give additional support to promising young athletes across the country in a variety of sports.