Helen Glover embracing 'hunter' tag heading into Paris 2024

Helen Glover and the women's four claimed World Championships bronze in Belgrade, adding extra motivation to their Olympic tilt next summer

Helen Glover (second from left)  teamed up with Rowan McKellar, Rebecca Shorten and Heidi Long in the women’s four
Helen Glover (second from left) teamed up with Rowan McKellar, Rebecca Shorten and Heidi Long in the women’s four

By Paul Martin

Helen Glover is relishing playing the role of hunter rather than hunted heading into an Olympic year following World Championship bronze in Belgrade.

Glover teamed up with Rowan McKellar, Rebecca Shorten and Heidi Long in the women’s four and the quartet claimed the final spot on the podium behind Romania and the Netherlands.

Her three teammates were part of the crew who took gold in 2022 and though the defending champions were unable to repeat the feat, double Olympic champion Glover knows from experience how to use such results as fuel.

“In 2011, we didn’t win the worlds before the Olympics and that gave me extra motivation,” she said.

“The lesson is to never underestimate anyone. When you get the winning taste, you want to do it again and when you miss out, you are hungrier than ever.

“I’m here because I want to be, because I choose to be and I really want to row with these girls to make the boat as fast as we can.

“I’m at a point in my career where I can enjoy that and relish it.

“Two months ago, if someone had handed us bronze we would have taken it quite happily but after the last six weeks we’ve had, we set our sights higher. It just goes to show you need a consistent year behind you rather than a consistent few weeks.”

Bronze for the women’s four was part of a Saturday to savour for a British squad who have banked seven Olympic quota places in Serbia and laid down plenty of Paris markers along the way.

The men’s four, made up of Oli Wilkes, David Ambler, Matt Aldridge and Freddie Davidson, capped their unbeaten season in style by storming to men’s four gold.

They will now look to re-establish Great Britain’s dominance of an event in which they have won nine Olympic gold medals next summer, following the shock of missing the podium altogether in Tokyo.

“It feels like this was a long time coming,” said Aldridge, who missed out on last year’s triumphant World Championship final after testing positive for Covid.

“It hasn't quite settled in yet and I'm still trying to digest the race but me and Dave [Ambler] are finally back together in the boat and I'm really happy.”

Lauren Henry, Hannah Scott, Lola Anderson and Georgina Brayshaw claimed a statement gold in the women’s quad sculls, Britain’s first in the discipline for 13 years leading to potentially revised ambitions looking ahead.

“We have shown we can deliver on the day and we are not getting ahead of ourselves,” said Scott.

“This gives us the confidence and belief we can do it on a world stage.”

Imogen Grant and Emily Grant missed a medal in Tokyo by the barest of margins but have not been beaten since.

Their latest imperious victory in the women’s lightweight double sculls was secured by a margin of more than three seconds to maintain the pair’s status as the team to beat heading into Paris.

“The photo finish from Tokyo is printed off and on my living room wall,” Craig said.

“It's not a negative anymore, it's a look how close we were in incredibly trying circumstances.

“We're now at the point where we've had two exceptional seasons together and we have built a wealth of experience.”

Tom George rued ‘a missed opportunity’ after being forced to settle for silver alongside Ollie Wynne-Griffith in the men’s pair, the British duo beaten by a Swiss boat they had overcome in the semi-finals, while the men’s quad sculls quartet finished fourth.

The para races brought more British success, with cancer survivor Erin Kennedy crowning a comeback to savour by steering the all-conquering PR3 mixed coxed four crew to their latest gold.

The coxswain was forced to watch last year’s competition from home while undergoing chemotherapy following her breast cancer diagnosis.

Having been given the all clear earlier this year, Kennedy led Ed Fuller, Frankie Allen, Giedre Rakauskaite and Morgan Fice-Noyes to a poignant victory as the crew completed an unbeaten season in style.

“It feels amazing to unite all the titles again,” Kennedy said.

“This time last year, I was sat at home feeling pretty sorry for myself but I was so proud of the team.

“I have been dreaming of this day for a really long time so to be back on the middle of the podium with the best team in the world, I couldn’t be happier.”

Birthday boy Gregg Stevenson, meanwhile, celebrated turning 39 with gold on his World Championship debut alongside Lauren Rowles in the PR2 mixed double sculls.

British Rowing is the governing body for the sport and is responsible for the development of rowing in England and the training and selection of rowers to represent Great Britain. The GB Rowing Team is supported by the National Lottery Sports Fund. To find out more, and to follow the team, head to https://www.britishrowing.org/