"...hopefully with everyone’s eagerness to learn and adapt we can give our best performances on the day with the goal in the back of all the crew’s minds of being world champions"
Great Britain’s PR3 mixed coxed four team (PR3 Mix4+) are looking to retain their world title later this month and get to grips with the new longer race distance.
The 2017 World Rowing Championships open on 24 September in Sarasota-Bradenton, USA, and will be the first major event to feature 2,000m races, double the distance previously raced by Para rowers.
The new race distance, combined with two new crew members and new coaching staff, are just some of the challenges existing crew members Grace Clough and James Fox will have to overcome in Sarasota-Bradenton.
“Getting us all to row in the same way in a short space of time has added complications,” said Clough. “But, hopefully with everyone’s eagerness to learn and adapt we can give our best performances on the day with the goal in the back of all the crew’s minds of being world champions.”
Clough and Fox have been teammates for the last three years and won Paralympic gold at Rio 2016. They hope that the new distance format will help the sport develop in the long run and be more inclusive.
“It’s a great move for the sport moving to racing over 2km. It could present challenges for the smaller boat classes because it will be a completely different event to some of the Olympic boats,” said Fox, who is hunting his fourth successive world title.
“I think the next step for Para rowing is to increase the amount of boat classes available and look at the classifications for each class. My view is that this will make the sport more inclusive to smaller nations as well as making the events more competitive.”
The British PR3 Mix4+ team started 2017 by winning gold at May’s Gavirate International Para Rowing Regatta. The team is well aware that this season is about building towards Tokyo 2020 and despite the challenges ahead, Clough remains hugely positive.
“I thank rowing a lot - it got me to achieve my dreams and reach the pinnacle of sport in a short space of time,” Clough said.
“My message has been to anyone Para or able-bodied is the same, to say yes to opportunities as you never know where it might take you. What I have learnt from the staff here is that there are many people keen to help you succeed in your dreams, all you need to do is ask,” added Clough.
More information on the 2017 World Rowing Championships can be found on World Rowing’s website.