Bill McCowen was born in London, the son of Donald Henry Ewan “Richie” McCowen and his wife Katharine Wilson. His father was a noted rower, golfer, yachtsman and British Olympian, competing in the eights event with the Leander crew at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.
Bill McCowen was educated at Radley College in Oxfordshire and joined the British Army in the 1950s, rising to the rank of Lieutenant in the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) and serving until 1959. He was selected for the 1964 British Olympic bobsleigh team and competed in the two-man event with fellow Radley College graduate Andrew Hedges and as a crew member of the Great Britain 2 sled in the four-man event, alongside Hedges, Robin Widdows and Robin Seel.
|Games||Discipline (Sport) / Event||NOC / Team||Pos||Medal||As|
|1964 Winter Olympics||Bobsleigh (Bobsleigh)||GBR||Bill McCowen|
|Two, Men (Olympic)||Andrew Hedges||16|
|Four, Men (Olympic)||Great Britain 2||13|