Olympics-Rowing-Mother of three Glover heading for fourth Games

Team GB Rowing Team Announcement for Tokyo 2020

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Double Olympic gold medallist and mother of three Helen Glover will compete in her fourth Olympics after being named on Wednesday in a 42-strong British rowing squad for the Paris Games.

Glover will feature in the women's four along with Esme Booth, Sam Redgrave and Rebecca Shorten and they have genuine hopes of a medal.

The 37-year-old won gold in the coxless pairs at London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016. In Tokyo 2021, after four years out of the sport, she became the first mother to row for Britain and finished fourth in the pairs.

Glover took a year out after Tokyo before deciding to come back for more.

"When I went on to do Tokyo it was answering lots of questions to myself, to other people, kind of proving naysayers wrong," Glover told Reuters during a squad presentation at London's Kew Gardens.

"A lot of it was a battle with energy spent, not just on the rowing but motherhood and breast-feeding twins and getting it right and getting onto the team.

"And I feel this is definitely kind of a sense of OK, I've shown I can do it, I've proven it's possible. Now let's see how well I can do it."

Glover's boat is unbeaten this year, the four triumphant at the European championships and two World Cup regattas.

Shorten also competed in Tokyo but the other two are Olympic debutants.

"I would love to walk away with a medal from this Games. I think it's possible," said Glover. "We're right in the ball park to do that."

Glover is not the only mother in the squad, with Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne selected in the double sculls with Becky Wilde. She had her son Freddie in 2022.

"I'm actually faster now," said Hodgkins-Byrne of her performance since her return from childbirth.

"I don't know if that's just because our training programme's changed or because I'm enjoying it more."

The squad features 23 women and 19 men, with half competing at their first Games.

Those returning include siblings Tom and Emily Ford, rowing in the men's and women's eights respectively.

Britain's rowers failed to win gold in Tokyo for the first time since 1980 and suffered their worst overall Olympic performance since 1972.

The former powerhouse of the sport returned with only two medals.

"There's been a pretty significant change between Tokyo and Paris, both in terms of leadership and some of our approach," British Rowing director of performance Louise Kingsley told Reuters.

"We're in a privileged position of having some very hungry athletes who were disappointed in Tokyo, combining with a very strong development group.

"We've had a good three-year run-in and we're ready to go and take on Paris. Anyone that's followed the rowing will see that we've got a number of strong crews so we'll be trying to get as many on the podium as we can."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)