Helen Glover: Tokyo 2020 comeback bid inspired by children

Helen Glover is combining her training with looking after her three children
Glover is combining her training with looking after her three children, including one-year-old twins

Double Olympic champion Helen Glover says proving herself to her baby daughter inspired her to attempt a comeback at this summer's Tokyo games.

Glover, who won coxless pairs gold at London 2012 and Rio 2016, has been away from elite rowing for four years.

"I want to physically show my little girl you can be and do what you want to," she told BBC Breakfast.

The 34-year-old would be the first woman to make a British Olympic rowing team after having children.

Glover has three children - two-year-old son Logan and one-year-old twins Bo and Kit - with television presenter and adventurer Steve Backshall.

Glover, who had previously said a comeback for Tokyo was "highly unlikely", says she reconsidered after spending time on an rowing machine during last year's first national lockdown.

She hadn't rowed for four years when enforced time indoors and a desire to get fitter after the birth of her twins combined to bring her back to the sport.

"Steve has always said he'll support me whatever I choose to do," Glover added.

"But when I first mentioned to him that I was thinking of coming back he said 'Helen, most people take up crocheting as a lockdown project, they don't decide to try to go to the Olympics. This is a little full on even for you!'

"In terms of training, this path is a bit untrodden. I am having to learn the hard way. The lack of sleep is a big thing.

"I have to deal with a low iron level, I'm still breastfeeding the twins and that takes it out of you.

"I'm doing shorter sessions and making them really hard. Maybe when I was younger I could get away with more. I could eat what I wanted and not think too much about recovery, but now every tiny thing makes a real difference."

Glover says that it is not just her family set-up and schedule that has changed since her last stint in the sport. Her priorities have also shifted.

"Before London and Rio it was gold or nothing. Heather Stanning and I were favourites. It felt like the most important thing in the world," she said.

Helen Glover with Heather Stanning
Helen Glover with Heather Stanning (right) after their gold in the coxless pairs at Rio 2016

"My big picture is very, very different this time. I'm a mum and we're living in a pandemic. There are so many things that constantly remind me sport is not the most important thing.

"If I get there and I race, I want to get the best result I can. But success does look different. I want to physically show my little girl Bo that you can be and do what you want to. That really inspires me, probably even more than I was for London and Rio."

Glover is training with the women's sweep squad, which since December has been coached by James Harrisexternal-link. Great Britain won their first Olympic medal in the women's eight under his coaching at Rio 2016.

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