Rowing world championship medallists Helen Glover and Victoria Thornley today (6 June) became the first athletes discovered through Talent ID programme Sporting Giants to be selected to represent Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics.
Launched by five-time Olympic rowing champion Sir Steve Redgrave in 2007, the first UK Sport and English Institute of Sport (EIS) Talent ID campaign sought tall and talented athletes with the potential to compete at the 2012 Olympic Games in the sports of rowing, handball and volleyball.
Glover and Thornley, neither of whom had set foot in a rowing boat prior to Sporting Giants, were confirmed as members of the 48 strong rowing squad by the British Olympic Association today in Windsor.
Having both won medals at world championship and world cup level over the past four years, most recently with Glover and crewmate Heather Stanning claiming gold medals at both of the World Cup events so far in 2012, both are strong medal prospects for London 2012.
Speaking about the Sporting Giants process, former hockey player Helen Glover said: “They tested 4,500 of us in groups of 200 at a time. I remember sitting in a room in Bisham Abbey and someone saying: ‘A gold medallist in 2012 could be sat in this room. Look around you.’ I thought: ‘Right, I’m going to make that me.’ It was quite surreal.”
Former catwalk model and show jumper Victoria Thornley said: “All I knew in 2007 about rowing was Sir Steve Redgrave’s name and it’s quite strange how one advert led to my life changing.
“This Olympics was always the aim, but I knew it was going to be hard. You don’t let yourself think anything about the Olympics until you are actually selected.”
Following their successful progression through Sporting Giants, Glover and Thornley were developed by the GB Rowing Team’s Start Programme, sponsored by Siemens.
Commenting on the selection, UK Sport Chief Executive, Liz Nicholl, said: “Congratulations to the 48 rowers selected today to represent Team GB at their home Games this year. Rowing in this country has gone from strength to strength over the years and this team looks to be our strongest yet.
“As the sport that receives the most funding from UK Sport, British Rowing has benefited from over £27million of National Lottery, Exchequer and Team 2012 funds in the four years leading up to London 2012, ensuring the athletes, their coaches and support staff have access to the very best possible preparation.
“This team selection has an additional interest for us at UK Sport, as it includes the first Olympic selection of athletes who have been discovered by one of our talent identification schemes, which just shows how a proactive approach to talent development can pay dividends – a particular congratulations to ‘Sporting Giants’ Helen Glover and Victoria Thornley on their incredible achievement.”
For more information on Helen Glover visit her profile here
For more information on Victoria Thornley visit her profile here