GB rower Helen Glover, who was agonisingly denied a medal in Tokyo earlier today, says she’ll tell her three young children that ‘failing is no problem as long as you try’.
The rower, who won gold at London 2012 and Rio 2016, delivered the sweet message to her three children – son Logan, three, and twins Kit and Willow, one – as she discussed the disappointment of narrowly missing out on a podium spot with partner Polly Swann in the women’s pairs.
Speaking to Samantha Quek and Dan Walker on BBC Olympics on Thursday morning, the 35-year-old mother-of-three, who is married to TV adventurer Steve Backshall, said she would not competitively row again.
Dubbed ‘the mother of all comebacks’, Glover’s return to the boat only began in March 2020 after she had taken four years away to start her family – her twins were born just two months earlier in January 2020.
A fairytale ending would have seen her add a third gold medal to her previous haul but it wasn’t meant to be, with New Zealand taking the title ahead of the Russian Olympic Committee and Canada.
The pair were pipped to the podium by New Zealand, Romanian and Canadian teams – with Glover unable to add to the two gold medals she won in London and Rio in 2012 and 2016
I’m done! Helen Glover, 35, voiced her disappointment at missing out on a Tokyo Olympics medal in the women’s rowing pair with partner Polly Swann (right) on Thursday – and said she would now definitely retire from the sport at Olympic level
The mother-of-three only decided to make a comeback early last year after giving birth to her twins Kit and Willow, one, in January 2020. Pictured with the twins and her older son Logan (far right), 3, during a winter training session earlier this year
In the last year, Glover has been forced to juggle a gruelling rowing schedule with caring for her three children during lockdown. A BBC Breakfast interview earlier this year saw toddler Logan interrupt an interview, offering a glimpse into just how hard Glover’s comeback was to manage.
Glover ruled out another rowing return after the frustrating fourth place. She told Walker and Quek: ‘Well do you know what, in Rio I said it was my last one.
‘This time I’m saying that it definitely is and everyone around me keeps saying: ”No, no, you’ll be back doing the single!”
The rower said she was happily hanging up her oars, saying: ‘I definitely don’t see myself doing the single. That’s definitely not in the pipeline. I never think beyond the finish line so for me I’m just looking forward to getting home and having some downtime.’
She told the show that her husband had been watching the show from her parents’ home in Cornwall – and had struggled with a wi-fi signal.
Family time: The rower told the show’s presenters ‘I definitely don’t see myself doing the single. That’s definitely not in the pipeline’ when asked if she would consider competing individually
She told the show that her husband, TV naturalist Steve Backshall, had been watching the show from her parents’ home in Cornwall – and had struggled with a wi-fi signal
Making memories: The athlete said: ‘Whether they (her children) remember it or not they were there from the very first strokes of this journey and in my mind to the very last strokes.’
Glover and Swann, an NHS doctor, pictured before the race in Tokyo
Glover said that not making the podium hadn’t meant the pair hadn’t achieved their dreams, saying: ‘For both of us this has felt more like a journey than anything we’ve done. We even look to the route of getting to the start line and how many crews fall to the wayside. You can never say that a place in the final isn’t exciting.
‘The last year for both of us is one we’re going to look back and I think when you’re caught up in the moment of it and the day-to-day grind of only having one year, it feels so immediate.
‘I’ll come to look back in a few years and think: “How did I do that? What was that year about?”
Glover’s partner, Polly Swann, a junior doctor who was working in a hospital in Scotland during the pandemic fightback last year said the rowers’ story is a unique one – because she’d been on the frontline during the pandemic and Glover had juggled rowing with caring for three young children
‘Everyone will remember the year of the pandemic for their own reasons and I will think that was the thing that took me to another Olympics and that’s bonkers.
‘Whether they (her children) remember it or not they were there from the very first strokes of this journey and in my mind to the very last strokes.’
A host of celebrity well-wishers – including Paralympic legend Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and Nature Watch TV presenter Michaela Strachan – could not help veteran rower Glover over the line for a medal in the rowing this morning.
The pair revealed they’ll be back on home soil within days after the Japanese ruling that all competitors should leave Tokyo within 48 hours of their event finishing.
Glover’s partner, Polly Swann, a junior doctor who was working at St John’s Hospital, Livingston in Scotland, during the pandemic fightback last year said the rowers’ story is a unique one.
‘For Helen, she was looking after three kids. For me I was working in a hospital a year ago today,’ she said after the duo finished in six minutes 54.96 seconds, 4.77secs behind the gold medallists.
‘I don’t think there’s many people in the Olympic athlete set-up that can say these things and be in a final.
‘We certainly fought our all to try to get on to that podium. I can’t fault our determination for that and more. We got in the boat together and every day since then has been pushing each other to the limit.’