Relph delight as British boats dominate Paralympic rowing regatta

Relph delight as British boats dominate Paralympic rowing regatta
By Sportsbeat

11/09/2016 at 17:53

Pamela Relph insisted a gold medal was never in doubt after another British rowing gold rush at the Paralympic Games in Rio.

Rachel Morris won single sculls gold, eight years after she last topped the podium at the Games on a hand cycle and just three years after learning to row.

Tom Aggar avenged the disappointment of missing out on a medal at London 2012 to claim men's singles scull bronze, returning to the podium eight years after winning gold in Beijing.

And Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley led from start to finish to win mixed doubles sculls in dominant style.

That put the pressure firmly on Great Britain's mixed coxed four team and they duly delivered in the final race of the regatta, with cox James Oliver calling the tactics and Grace Clough, Daniel Brown, James Fox and Relph providing the power.

"It feels amazing. Coming through that last 250m I knew that we had won it, I knew no-one would come through us and the crowd really lifted us," said Relph, 25, the only member of the crew that also won four years ago.

"This crew has come together brilliantly. We knew we were fitter, stronger and faster than our rivals but we still had to deliver."

Rowles and Whiteley led from start to finish to win their race, the most dominant victory of the day.

Former wheelchair athlete Rowles, just 18, only took up the sport last year to the delight of 25-year old Whiteley, who had been searching for a suitable partner for two years.

"I learned so much with athletics, I learned what it means to be an athlete," she said. "I got a lot of conditioning from athletics but rowing taught me why I love sport and why I especially love rowing.

"It's not about medals and it's not about winning, it's about loving being on the water every day and enjoying every stroke you take.

"The water is not as quick as we were expecting but we went out hard and tried to hold everyone off. We just had the race of our lives and we enjoyed it."

Whiteley has been training alone while British Rowing have searched for a partner and he admitted there were times when his Paralympic dream didn't seem worth the hassle.

"I was two and a half years waiting for someone like Lauren to turn up and thinking it would be worth it in the end. That was the only thing which kept me going," he added.

"At times I thought walking away and finding someone else would be easier to do. After all that to be Paralympic gold medallist, I'd absolutely do that again in a heartbeat."

Morris, 37, who also won a cycling time trial bronze at London 2012 and only took up rowing in 2013, fought back the tears after a dramatic victory. She was behind throughout but overhauled Chinese rival Lili Wang just a few metres from the finish line.

"That was the hardest thing I've ever done," she said. "It just goes to show if you have stuff drilled into you every day by the coaches and you do it you can win."

Aggar, competing at his third Games, admitted pride in his team-mates after their regatta to remember, making Rio's picturesque city centre Lagoa a place of happy memories for Britain's Olympic and Paralympic teams.

And his medal goes a long way to making amends for London, when he arrived at Eton Dorney with a five-year unbeaten record, only to be edged into fourth.

He said: "I think we knew from the training we knew we had a strong team and everyone could get on the podium and it was a case of what colour the medal would be if they got it right on the day.

"It's amazing to do it on the same day, three golds and a bronze, it's a real honour to be part of the best ParalympicsGB team I've been a part of." © Sportsbeat 2016