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Helen Glover hopes Paris 2024 will be more like her experience in London and Rio

Helen Glover is in the 42-strong Team GB rowing squad for Paris (John Walton/PA)
Helen Glover is in the 42-strong Team GB rowing squad for Paris (John Walton/PA)

Helen Glover will head to Paris feeling free of the pressure to prove she can balance parenthood with competition after she was named as part of a 42-strong Team GB Olympic rowing squad.

The 37-year-old, who finished fourth after coming out of retirement for the Tokyo Games three years ago, is looking to add to the coxless pair gold medals she won in London and Rio as she competes in the coxless four.

Having given birth to a son in July 2018 and twins 18 months later, her first Games as a mother is already behind her, though it came with the disappointment of narrowly missing out on the podium as part of a pair with Polly Swann.

“When I went on to do Tokyo, I was answering a lot of questions to myself and other people, proving naysayers wrong,” she told the PA news agency.

“It was a battle with energy spent not just on the rowing but on motherhood, breastfeeding twins, and getting on to the team.

“This (Paris) is a sense of ‘I’ve shown I can do it, I proven it’s possible, now let’s see how well I can do it’. It has much more of a feeling of the London and Rio experience – let’s not ask whether we can do it, and let’s go and see what we can do.”

In Paris she will be the most experienced member of a boat containing Rebecca Shorten – who is a two-time world medallist – Esme Booth and Sam Redgrave.

Her return to competition after five years in retirement saw her and Swann claim victory in the coxless pairs at the 2021 European championships in Italy, the first time that Glover had competed since Rio.

Tokyo saw the pair fall short of bronze by 2.86 seconds, but in light of the circumstances that led up to her Team GB selection, she returned home with few regrets.

“I don’t reflect with any negativity on the fourth place,” she said. “The win happened when I got on the plane and got selected for the team.

“The twins were nine months old when we won the European championships. It’s been such a short year of small wins for us that I was nothing but proud (of the fourth place).

Team GB Rowing Team
A 42-strong squad has been selected for Paris (John Walton/PA)

“When the dust settled, I took a year off after Tokyo with an eye on keeping the door open. I wanted to go back with a sense of purpose.

“I would love to walk away with a medal from (Paris). I think we’re right in the ballpark.”

Elsewhere in the squad siblings Tom and Emily Ford will compete in the men’s and women’s eight respectively, while Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Tom Barras is in the men’s quadruple skulls.

Mathilda Hodgkins Byrne, who became a mother for the first time in 2022, will compete in the double women’s skulls alongside Becky Wilde.

Team GB chef de mission Mark England said: “The Olympic experience in this squad is huge, and I have no doubt it will be an asset to the 21 rowers who will make their Olympic debut in Paris this summer.”