26 July 2023

Helen Glover says balancing family life with Olympic ambitions ‘working well’

26 July 2023

Two-time Olympic champion Helen Glover says coming out of retirement after the Tokyo Games felt like more of “a natural decision” as she targets further success.

The 37-year-old made her comeback to compete at Tokyo just one year after giving birth to twins and narrowly missed out on a podium spot with a fourth-placed finish.

However, Glover has come out of retirement for a second time to target a potential fourth Olympics in Paris next year and says the decision is “working well” so far.

“I think this time actually felt like a more natural decision,” she told PA news agency.

“When I started to come back for Tokyo, that was way more left field, didn’t see it coming, it was purely from circumstance.

“I spent that whole year going up to Tokyo thinking ‘can it be done?’ and having done it, it made me think – I spent so much time thinking you’re trying to change things, push barriers and move things around to make it work to be a mum coming back into sport.

“Now I know it can be done – how well can it be done? I think there were so many unanswered questions, now they’ve been answered it’s like ‘we can get to work now’.

“It really excites me and I think that after Tokyo, coming back and spending some time with family, there was no real reason for me to retire.

“It’s working well with family life, my body still is in good enough condition to do it.

“I think until the day that something slips, either my body can’t do it anymore or the kids don’t become a priority, that’s the day that I will stop doing it.”

Glover’s return has already seen her earn two silvers this year rowing in the women’s four at the World Rowing Cup II and the European Rowing Championship.

An Olympic spot is up for grabs at the World Championships in September and, although her Olympic medals were won in the pair, Glover insists competing in a four has not changed her preparations.

“It’s not been too different from the pair,” she said.

“I think essentially if you’re in a boat with somebody else, you’re turning up for them, you’re being at training on time, you’re having to tow the line along with the rest of the team.

Glover has three children with her husband, the television presenter and naturalist Steve Backshall, and became the first mother to row for GB at the Tokyo Olympics.

However, she admits the unpredictability of balancing parenthood alongside being an athlete is something that she has had to relax with.

“I think it’s definitely less kind of predictable than I expected, once you have a family, you just don’t know what you’re going to be doing in two weeks’ time,” Glover said.

“I can have a run of a good few weeks of training and think ‘yeah, I’ve got it nailed, everything’s fine’ then suddenly someone will get chicken pox and everything changes.

“I think that unpredictability is something I’m having to relax a little bit with, it goes a little bit against the elite athlete mindset of everything having to be perfect.”

Glover was speaking ahead of the launch of Team GB’s Mini Mascot campaign, where five children will get an extraordinary opportunity to be part of Team GB as the official mascots to the team.

Once selected the five Mini Mascots will experience extraordinary moments on the journey to Paris 2024, from meeting the athletes, to sending Team GB on their way to the Games.

For Glover, reaching a potential fourth Games would be “even more special” with her children able to watch on in Paris.

She said: “I think I’ll be in great shape to go to the Games, but I never want to say I’m there because I know a lot can happen!

“I think reaching a fourth Olympics Games would be something I wouldn’t have believed in my wildest dreams; it’ll be even more special because my kids can be there watching from the finish line.”

Parents or guardians can nominate their child to become a mascot by entering their details at www.teamgb.com/mascot

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