Helen Glover MBE is a British professional rower and a member of the Great Britain Rowing Team. Ranked the number 1 female rower in the world since 2015, she is a two time Olympic champion, triple World champion, quintuple World Cup champion and triple European champion. As of June 2016, she and her partner Heather Stanning are the World, Olympic, World Cup and European record holders, plus the reigning Olympic, World and European champions in the women's coxless pairs. She has also been a British champion in both women's fours and quad sculls.
Since I was little I was always into nature, sport, the outdoors and adventure. It was my competitive drive that lead me to focus on becoming a sportsperson. I loved taking part in sport, but equally, I wanted to be the best in the world (!) or at least the best I could be. My passion took direction when my mum called me up in 2008 and told me about a talent ID drive called Sporting Giants. It was designed to get people into different sports and 4 years ahead of London 2012, where I won my first olympic gold medal, I got selected to start rowing through this scheme.
My parents have always inspired myself and my brothers and sisters to do what we love. Having their belief and support has got me through many tough times that come with being an athlete. I have also been inspired by the athletes that have gone before me like Kelly Holmes, Paula Radcliffe and Denise Lewis. Outside of the sporting world I grew up being inspired by the tenacity shown by adventures such as Sir Ranulph Fiennes.
When I first started training to make the Olympic team I felt like everything was against me. I was working as a PE teacher to fund my training and needed to beat people who were training full-time. I knew I wasn't getting enough rest and recovery but I told myself that rather than give up and feel sorry for myself I would accept the situation and bottle my frustrations, turning them into motivations and helping me push harder in training. This was easier said than done but I think it made me a tougher and more determined athlete.
In 2012 alongside Heather Stanning I won Team GBs first gold of the 2012 olympics, and GBs first ever olympic gold in women rowing. We managed to retain the title 4 years later in Rio. These achievements are far beyond what I dared to dream when I was growing up.
Take opportunities. I always like to give things a go, taking every opportunity that comes my way. If I try and fail at least I can be proud of giving it a go! If I hadn't taken the opportunity of starting to row I never would have become Olympic Champion.
It is so important to love what you do. Even though my career highlights will be the gold medals, there is more to the journey than just the final races. My rowing partner Heather and my coach Robin not just are what got me through the training and racing but they are what made it an enjoyable, remarkable, fun experience.
Sitting on the start line of a big race can be a scary and lonely place. You know that all of the years and years of training are going to come down to the 7 minutes racing ahead of you. In those moments I give myself positive things to focus on- reminding myself that I am fit and strong, and just focussing on taking the race one section at a time.
There is so much tempting us indoors. From games to box sets and getting 'likes and followers' on social media. Getting outside allows you to experience nature, excitement and adventure without living it through a screen. Whether its walking your dog, building a den with friends, taking paddle boarding lessons, camping or climbing a mountain, time spent outdoors is always worthwhile. I think we can embrace the modern world without leaving our love for the outdoors behind.
This summer my husband (Steve Backshall) and I spent some time in Alaska. We packed tents, sleeping bags and food into a couple of kayaks and spent 4 days in the wilderness of an Alaskan fjord. We spent hours marvelling at glaciers carving huge icebergs, searched for hours for the best camping spots away from bears, and filled up our bottles from streams of fresh glacial water. There were no signs of any other people and I love the fact that in our busy world there are still these wild places that exist.
My scout leaders gave me so much when I was growing up. Tash and Jer were the leaders for Penzance Madron scout troop and selflessly spent their free time ensuring that the scouts in their care became young adults with a love of the outdoors. They gave me the tools to feel confident exploring the world around me and, without knowing it at the time, set me up with the discipline and leadership skills that would be so important in my rowing career.
Ive taken a break from rowing and used the time to get involved in lots of other sports and activities. The year I have run a marathon, a half ironman, completed the Devises to Westminster kayak race, completed adventure races and a mountaineering course. Im looking forward to putting the mountaineering course to good use in the coming year and would love to reach a big peak with my husband Steve.
Carpe Diem. Seize the day. My athletics coach wrote it inside a birthday card when I was 13 years old and it is a great reminder to seize every day and relish every opportunity.
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