Double Olympic champion and mother of three Helen Glover back in training for Tokyo 2020

“I began to wonder if I could be the first woman in British Rowing history to make an Olympic team after having children.”


Helen Glover with her three children

Double Olympic champion Helen Glover MBE has returned to training with the GB Rowing Team with the goal of gaining selection for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

During her four years away from competing, Helen has married her husband Steve Backshall and has had three children Logan (2 ½), Bo and Kit (1).

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After spending the past seven months training near her home near Maidenhead, Helen has now rejoined the GB Rowing Team at their Caversham training base. She is now training full time with the women’s sweep squad as they build towards the summer’s international competitions, including the Games.

Helen said: “It started as a desire to get my fitness back after having the twins, training during their nap time. When lockdown came it meant more hours on the rowing machine than I had anticipated. As my scores and times started getting better, I began to wonder if I could be the first woman in British Rowing history to make an Olympic team after having children. I’m finding the journey exciting and extremely challenging. Trying to be an elite sportswoman and also the best mother I can be to young babies is certainly teaching me a lot.”

Director of Performance Brendan Purcell said: “It’s fantastic to have Helen back training with the squad. She’s an incredible athlete and brings a huge amount to the team.

“At this stage, all options are open and there’s a lot left to be decided but Helen has already displayed her qualities as an elite level athlete by placing herself in contention for Tokyo.”

Helen, who won gold medals alongside Heather Stanning OBE at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games, is one of British Rowing’s all time success stories. She first started rowing through the Sporting Giants talent identification scheme in 2008 under coach Paul Stannard; three years later she and Heather began their historic unbeaten international streak in the women’s pair.

Heather said: “It’s such great news to hear Helen is back in a boat and challenging for a place at the Tokyo Olympics. She’s an awesome athlete who clearly brings a huge amount of experience to any boat she rows in. I was lucky to have shared both my Olympic journeys with her and now can’t wait to be chief cheerleader at the next Games!”

Polly Swann, who made her own return to the GB Rowing Team in 2019 after completing her medical degree, said: “”Helen is an exceptional person and a phenomenal athlete. To return to the team as a mum of three is an incredible achievement and it really inspires me. It’s a huge step in the right direction for women in sport. If we as a team can support her ambitions and learn from her it will hopefully pave the way for more women to follow in her footsteps – and who wouldn’t want a double Olympic champion in their team?”