Helen Glover is a mum on a mission – double Olympic champion aims to be first mother to make the GB rowing team after Covid postponement opened the door for a sensational return in Tokyo this summer
- Glover has had three children, Logan and twins Kit and Bo, since Rio 2016
- The double Olympic champion had ruled out going for a treble in Tokyo
- She has been inspired by other medal-winning mums like Jessica Ennis-Hill
Helen Glover is a mum on a mission. Having had three children since Rio 2016, the double Olympic champion had ruled out going for a treble in Tokyo.
But now Glover reveals she is back in a boat in a bid to become the first mother to make a British Olympic rowing team.
‘To try and be the first woman to do that is a huge part of my motivation,’ the 34-year-old tells Sportsmail. ‘I think it can be done and if I’m the person to do that it would be amazing.
Helen Glover has had three children, Logan and twins Kit and Bo, since the 2016 Olympics
‘I would love to be an inspiration to show that once you have had children, you can still keep going with the things you love. This is a real project we are doing together as a family.’
Glover shot to fame when she won Team GB’s first gold of London 2012 alongside Heather Stanning, before they repeated their success in the women’s pair four years later in Brazil.
She then took time out to start a family with her husband, TV explorer Steve Backshall, and had son Logan in July 2018, before giving birth to twins Kit and Bo, a boy and girl, last January.
Glover never intended to return to rowing but the postponement of the Olympics from 2020 to 2021 opened the door.
The double Olympic champion (left) had ruled out going for a treble in Tokyo
And since Christmas she has been back training with the Great Britain team and is now in the mix for a place in the pair, four or eight at the Tokyo Games – should they happen – in six months’ time.
‘I started to get the idea in the first lockdown when I was just trying to get a bit of fitness after just having the twins,’ admits Glover. ‘I started seeing some of my old scores coming back after spending more time on the rowing machine than I anticipated.
‘Over the summer I thought if I keep enjoying it then I can get to Christmas and see where I am at. Then suddenly I was thinking it was a real prospect and I could try and make the team for Tokyo.
‘I’m pleasantly surprised with where I’m at. I’m not quite where I was five years ago, but I can see myself being there by July.
Glover took time out to start a family with her husband, TV explorer Steve Backshall
‘The most important time will be the next six weeks when I’ve got to put in some good performances because by March they will want to be putting the team together.’
Glover says she has been inspired by other medal-winning mums, including Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, who became world heptathlon champion in 2015 a year after giving birth before claiming silver in Rio.
She has also spoken to Dame Sarah Storey, the winner of three Paralympic cycling golds in Rio after having her first child and now going to Tokyo as a mother-of-two.
Glover trains in the morning while her children are napping, either on her rowing machine at her home near Maidenhead or on the lake at GB’s base in nearby Caversham.
She is back to play with the children when they wake up and then does her final session – core or weights – later in the afternoon.
Glover says she has been inspired by other medal-winning mums like Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill
‘Instead of the normal motivational music you’d expect in the gym, we have nursery rhymes playing,’ smiles Glover, who is joined on Zoom by her two-year-old son Logan. ‘It’s about making it work with the kids and if they want to be part of it, they can!’
That juggling act was there for all to see on national television last week when, attempting to demonstrate a home work-out with her kids live on BBC Breakfast, the twins were wailing on screen.
‘I didn’t go on my social media for a couple of hours afterwards thinking I was going to be crucified, but it was the nicest reaction I’ve had from anything I’ve done,’ Glover laughs.
‘That is the reality of some of my sessions. Some days are really hard. I do have sleepless nights and babies to look after, and I’m not living the same athletes lifestyle that I would have been five years ago.
‘But trying to be an elite sportswoman and also the best mother I can be to young babies is teaching me a lot. It is extremely challenging but exciting.’