Talent ID rower Glover takes second Olympic title

Published 12 August 2016

#DiscoverYour Gold ambassador Helen Glover has become a double Olympic champion after being fast-tracked in to Rowing by a pioneering UK Sport and English Institute of Sport talent identification campaign in 2008.

Glover and her partner Heather Stanning defended their Women’s Pair title to win Gold in a dominant performance at Lagoa Stadium to continue a remarkable journey for the 30-year-old from Penzance.

Glover’s Gold is the second medal won so far in Rio by “Sporting Giants” – the other being Vicky Thornley in the Women’s Double Sculls who won Silver with Katherine Grainger.

There could be more incredible success for talent identification Rowing athletes on the way too, with Karen Bennett (another 'Sporting Giant') and Matthew Gotrel, discovered by 'Tall and Talented', going in the Women’s and Men’s Eight finals.

All the female rowers’ first experience of rowing happened as a result of ‘Sporting Giants’, a national talent identification campaign run in partnership by UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport. The first of its kind, it was launched by Sir Steve Redgrave in February 2007, aiming to unearth tall, powerful, talented contenders who could be fast-tracked into sports including rowing.

Helen Glover came from a sporting background, playing hockey for the England satellite squad, representing her county in tennis and swimming, and running for England, it was only when she came forward for Sporting Giants that she was able to take her ambitions to a whole new level.

After successfully completing the testing phases, Helen was placed on the hugely-successful GB Rowing Team’s Start programme at the University of Bath where she and Heather were nurtured and fast-tracked with top coach Paul Stannard.

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The double gold medallist is also determined to inspire the next generation of sporting talent as she is helping promote #DiscoverYour Giant which forms part of the biggest multi-sport talent identification campaign in British history.

Over 20 sports are involved in #DiscoverYour Gold, a partnership between UK Sport, the English Institute of Sport (EIS), and a range of National Governing Bodies, targeting 15-24 year old males and females to be fast-tracked into the exciting world of high performance sport.

Launched this July, the campaign aims to identify talented young athletes who could be challenging for medals at Tokyo 2020 and beyond.

#DiscoverYour Gold – has five strands:

  • #DiscoverYour Giant  – Rowing, Netball
  • #DiscoverYour Power – Track cycling, Skeleton, Canoeing
  • #DiscoverYour Para Potential – All Paralympic sports, including para athletics, para swimming and para cycling
  • #DiscoverYour Fight – Judo, Taekwondo and Women’s Boxing
  • #DiscoverYour Freestyle – Freestyle Snowboarders and Skiers

Since 2007, the UK Talent Team has worked in partnership with 22 Olympic and Paralympic sports and over 100 World Class coaches; run 12 National athlete recruitment campaigns, and assessed over 9000 athletes. These projects have resulted in over 100 newly identified athletes entering the World Class system with over 600 international appearances made and over 250 international medals won. Six athletes have also been selected to compete for Team GB in Rio.

Liz Nicholl, Chief Executive of UK Sport, said; “I am thrilled Helen Glover and Heather Stanning have joined an exclusive Olympic elite as multiple gold medallists. They are both incredibly talented individuals and combine brilliantly to make a formidable world class team. 

“This shows just how effective our proactive approach to talent identification and development can be. To have achieved what she has less than 10 years from first setting foot in a boat is testament to Helen’s remarkable, talent, commitment and focus.

“Our new campaign, #DiscoverYour Gold, is all about ensuring young people with sporting ability get the opportunity to reach their full potential no matter what their background.

“If you are highly competitive, mentally tough and up for the challenge of a lifetime – sign up – you never know you could be the next double Olympic champion like Helen Glover.”

Nigel Walker, National Director of the EIS, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Helen Glover and her partner Heather Stanning have successfully defended their Olympic title. 

“They are both incredible athletes and considering Helen was a relative unknown prior to 2007, she has demonstrated that she has what it takes to sustain medal winning performances at the highest level. 

“Identifying talent is one thing, but developing it to be able to perform consistently when it matters most is another thing altogether.  Helen, in her partnership with Heather, has proved they have this down to a fine art.”

You can find out more and sign up for #DiscoverYour Gold at uksport.gov.uk/talent


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