29 August 2021

Great Britain secure double gold in Paralympic rowing

29 August 2021

Great Britain’s rowers grabbed double Paralympic gold on a glorious morning in Tokyo.

Laurence Whiteley made it a 30th birthday to remember by topping the PR2 mixed double sculls podium alongside Lauren Rowles, recording a winning time of 8:38.99.

That success at Sea Forest Waterway was swiftly followed by glory in the PR3 mixed coxed four final for quartet Ellen Buttrick, Giedre Rakauskaite, James Fox and Ollie Stanhope, plus cox Erin Kennedy.

They finished in 6:49.24, more than 11 seconds ahead of the United States and almost 18 seconds clear of bronze medallists France.

Whiteley and Rowles also won mixed sculls gold together at Rio 2016 and once again blew the competition out of the water on Sunday.

They crossed the line just under five seconds ahead of Dutch duo Annika Van Der Meer and Corne De Koning, with Chinese pair Liu Shuang and Jiang Jijian almost 10.5 seconds off the pace in the bronze medal position.

Speaking of her partner’s birthday, Rowles – who became paralysed from the waist down in 2012 due to transverse myelitis – said “It’s a big one today for this birthday geezer.

“We came in this morning and embarrassed him.

“All the volunteers put little signs out, they made little cranes for him. They just love us being here.

“We love them. It’s the environment, the atmosphere, it’s been so nice to feel, in a way, at home here, having no spectators, having no family here.

“You feel like every Japanese person that lives out here is supporting you.

“Every single one of the volunteers has said happy birthday to him today. They’re such a welcoming bunch of people.”

Scarborough-born Whiteley – who has limb deficiency following treatment for bone cancer – had relatively modest celebration plans.

“I might have a birthday muffin,” he said.

“We did what we set out to do. We have a lot of trust in each other, and we have a lot of confidence in our own abilities.

“There’s a lot that goes on to put us on the start line, then it’s down to me and Lauren to deliver on that.”

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