Helen Glover (b), Polly Swann (s), Women's Pair, Great Britain, 2021 European Rowing Championships, Varese, Italy / Benedict Tufnell

Rower of the Month – June 2021

Two-time Olympic and three-time world champion Helen Glover is on the comeback trail. After taking four years off rowing to have her three children, the British rower is back on the water and already has a European Championship gold in the women’s pair to show for it. She tells us how things are different this time around.

World Rowing: Why did you take up rowing in the first place and what’s brought you back?
Helen Glover: I took up rowing through Talent ID. I never thought I’d be a rower but as soon as I tried it, I knew it could be something that could take me to the Olympic Games and that really inspired me. What’s brought me back? I think I’ve been quite motivated by the fact that Covid has given me the opportunity of an extra year and it suddenly seemed that it could become possible. I’m also very inspired by the fact that I could be the first British mum to make the Olympic team. I’d love to think that there’ll be many to come after me.

WR: How is your training going?
HG:  It’s good. Every day I’m trying to work out the best way of juggling training with family. It’s been working really, really nicely so far.

WR: Are you approaching anything differently to when you were last rowing at the elite level?
HG: I think I have had quite a good change in perspective on things. When I was rowing before, I was definitely quite outcome orientated. Now I’m probably a bit more process driven, which I think is actually quite a nice change.

WR: Are you surprised you’re the first British rower to come back to international rowing after becoming a mother and do you think there have been barriers in the past?
HG: I feel like Covid has actually allowed me the opportunity to try doing it a different way. With lockdown, like so many people, I’ve been able to do lots of training from home because of the situation this year.

WR: Has the Pandemic affected how you train and/or your perspective on rowing?
I think that a global pandemic changes everything for everyone really. I definitely see sport as a huge part of my life – as it always has been – but it’s not the only thing. People’s health and your family and your friends always come first. I think that it’s been a really good reminder of that.

WR: What is your favourite rowing memory?
Probably the years I had training on the British team with really great friends. I can call my coach Robin (Williams) a really good friend of mine. One of my best friends, Heather (Stanning), I’ve gone to an Olympic Games with. Also the wider team, lots of the girls from the eight – and on the sculling side – are lifelong friends and are my biggest, loudest supporters on this journey this time round.

WR: What do you do when you’re not rowing?
HG: Now, I’m just being Mum. Before, I used to climb and go paddle boarding and things like that, but now it’s just getting as much time as possible with the children.

WR: How do you relax?
HG: Usually when the children have gone to bed, that’s I guess my time to relax and especially at the moment, the weather is lovely and we can sit outside have a barbecue, watch the sunset and just get as much rest and recovery as possible for training the next day.

WR: Which sportsperson do you most admire?
HG: Usually the people I row with. Heather Stanning was a big inspiration of mine, rowing with her taught me a lot but now I’m rowing with Polly Swann, I find her really motivational. I think she’s a fantastic athlete. Also being on the team alongside people like Anna Watkins and Katherine Grainger. I feel really privileged in my career to have trained alongside some really amazing people.