Golden moment ‘sensational’ for Rowles, Whiteley

The British rowers hope to repeat their Rio success at September’s World Championships. 02 May 2017
Two rowers in a boat on the water

The Great Britain pair of Laurence Whitely and Lauren Rowles take the gold medal in the TA Mixed Double Scu. - TAMix2x Final A at the Lagoa Stadium. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday 11th September 2016.

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By Fumiaki Fujita and the IPC

The British rowing tandem of Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley remember the feeling of winning Rio 2016 gold, something they hope they can repeat again at September’s World Championships.

“Winning gold was just sensational,” Whiteley recalled. “The emotions overwhelm you after you cross the line and realise that you are a Paralympic champion.”

The duo had lost to Australia’s Kathryn Ross and Gavin Bellis back at the 2015 World Championships in Aiguebelette, France. But their dominating victory at last September’s Paralympics made the British pair the ones to beat at the Worlds in Sarasota-Bradenton, USA, from 24 September – 1 October.

Whiteley did not exactly say that winning their first ever World title in the PR2 Mixed double sculls (PR2 Mix2x) is the aim.

“Our goal leading into any competition is to display a performance that is the best of our ability at that time and to keep pushing our physical boundaries,” he said. “This will be the same aim leading into the Worlds this year.”

It was not until March 2015 that Rowles and Whiteley met at the Great Britain’s rowing team base in Reading. Whiteley progressed into the national team in 2013, while Rowles took her first strokes in early 2015, switching from wheelchair racing, after being talent scouted by GB Rowing.

“It was a very long nationwide search to find someone,” said Whiteley.

The two then teamed up to secure silver at the 2015 World Championships, their first international appearance together.

They have learned the ropes of competing internationally, which helps in the long run.

“Travelling such great distances to reach the World Championships always throws up challenges,” Whitely said. “When we arrive, getting used to the venue and acclimatising is always important. Then we need to make sure that we are race-fit, from nutrition to recovery. It's always a juggling act.”

He also hopes in the long-run the sport develops and others can experience a similar thrill and excitement.

“Rowing has installed me with a greater understanding of my body and my mind and how to cultivate both of them in order to produce your best performance,” Whiteley said.

“Rowing helps others in a number of ways from balance, coordination: learning to be more dexterous. Rowing can give you a great sense of freedom if you are a chair user. Whatever your impairment is, rowing can accommodate for all, so there is no excuse to not give it a go.”