Helen Glover says the prospect of making her children proud is a key factor behind the decision to launch a comeback she hopes will end in a third Olympic appearance.
The Team GB legend, who won women’s coxless pairs gold alongside Heather Stanning in London and Rio, has returned to training with the GB Rowing squad just a year after giving birth to twins Bo and Kit, while Glover’s eldest son Logan was born in July 2018.
Should she make it to Tokyo, the 34-year-old would become the first British female rower to compete at an Olympics after having children and though they are not yet old enough to take in her previous exploits, the prospect of creating new memories is driving Glover on.
“There is nothing rowing related in the house apart from one photo of Heather and I, which Logan points at and says ‘Olympics! Mummy won!’,” Glover said.
“We haven’t really discussed it, though he teases me sometimes when he sees me training. He just thinks that’s normal. We haven’t introduced him to it at all.
“But they are a huge motivation. Thinking about the three of them and being able to tell them they were around when this happened – even if they’re too young to remember – is definitely a big motivator.”
Glover had come to terms with missing out on Tokyo but the postponement of the Games left the door ajar for a return when she got back on the rowing machine during the first national lockdown last March.
Having promised herself she would trial if her enjoyment – not to mention the impressive times – continued until Christmas, she is now hoping to earn a place in the squad while balancing training commitments with childcare.
“I’m definitely still learning that one,” she said. “When they sleep, I train is my general principle and it focuses the mind as I know that if I don’t train in those moments, I’ve missed that session.
“Most afternoons, I’ll have the least normal weights session you’ll see – nursery rhymes are blaring out the speakers and I’ll have a little dance with one of the twins in between sets to keep them entertained.
“There have been many times I’ve needed to get off the rowing machine halfway through because a baby has woken up, or stopped a weights session to feed one of them.
“My first responsibility is as a mum. The moment I feel that any of the children miss out at all, I will step away from rowing. But I don’t see that happening and I’m really happy with the balance at the moment.”
Glover has benefited from advice from other athletes who have attempted a similar balancing act, such as Dame Sarah Storey and Anna Watkins, while she also praised an ‘amazing’ support network.
“My family and friends know I’m absolutely crazy for doing this but have really encouraged me to give it a go,” she said. “That has helped keep me going.
“My mindset at the moment is to keep enjoying it. I’m sure that will change as the pressure arrives around selection time and the closer we get to the Olympics it’ll be more pressure and stress, but that’s natural.
“Even if I don’t make it to the Games, I hope to still make a positive impact on the team.
“They are a young team, so any inside knowledge or information I can pass on could be really beneficial. I’d love to see the team do really well whether I’ll be involved or not.
“But this is the first step to thinking it could really happen. I thought I’d woken up in my last Olympic year five years ago, so to think it could be happening again in a few months’ time is still sinking in.
“It’s strange, in some ways, but really exciting.”