British comedian Hugh Laurie could have easily taken another career track rather than that of well-known performer. As a secondary and college student, he was also a world-class oarsman. He wasn't the only one in the family to have a passion for the sport, however. His father won a gold medal at the 1948 London Olympics as part of the British national team. The youngest of four children, Laurie went to Eton College, perhaps Britain's best-known preparatory school. During his time there, he became involved in rowing. He quickly became one of the nation's best, and in 1977, he became one half of the national junior champion coxed pair. In the world junior championships held in Finland that year, he and his teammate finished fourth in the world.
The following year, Laurie entered Cambridge University, with the intention of studying archeology and anthropology. He was also intent on joining the prestigious rowing team, which he had little problem doing. He reportedly became ill during his first year, however, and was forced to withdraw from the rowing competitions. While regaining his health, Laurie had his first experiences as a performer by getting involved with "the Footlights Club," a famed undergraduate comedy revue group. In his last year at Cambridge, Laurie was elected president of the club, with fellow Footlighter Emma Thompson acting as vice president.