Having inspired a new generation of mums and women to take up sport, Helen Glover’s Olympic heroics in Tokyo has helped to kick-start a British Rowing initiative called Go Row Indoors.
Glover, who gave birth to twins last year, finished fourth at her third Olympic Games this summer, having previously won gold in London 2012 and 2016 in Rio with Heather Stanning.
The mum-of-three became the first mother to be part of Team GB’s Olympic rowing squad and her efforts in Tokyo have inspired a whole generation of women to believe that anything is possible.
Stanning was in attendance in Bristol to see The National Lottery-funded Go Row campaign in person, visiting new rowers and mums from Bristol Aerial Rowing Club to inspire more women to get involved with the sport.
“What Helen has shown is as a young mum, it's still important to make sure you have some ‘you’ time and rowing is a really great sport for that at club level,” said Stanning, speaking to promote Go Row Indoors, an indoor programme from British Rowing, which aims to get everyone rowing whether it be for fun, fitness, or competition.
“It's a really family friendly sport and it's lovely to see so many people down here who have been inspired by Helen's journey. Helen is inspirational for everyone, every generation, easily.
“Within the sport, it’s so important The National Lottery is providing schemes that give clubs the support to do this and it's great to see. I'm loving seeing so many people out here.
“All Mums are amazing – but Helen is a huge inspiration for mums all over the country to make time for themselves to get active, whether that’s trying sport for the first time or training every day.”
Novice rower Helen Winstanley, 31, from Bristol, started rowing to keep active after having her two children. With the help of British Rowing’s Learn to Row intensive course, she was on the water in no time – and she admitted Glover’s Tokyo heroics and an appearance from Stanning had further fuelled her ambitions.
The Olympics is a celebration of elite sport participation but also serves as an inspirational moment for the power of sport to deliver impact beyond participation.
She said: “It was a bit scary for me coming back into something after having my kids, so it's really cool to see a mum like Helen [Glover] up there on the international stage and doing amazingly.
“I live in Bristol and my family and I would always walk past and see the rowers from Bristol Ariel Club and I always thought it looked fun.
“I'm so glad I did the Learn to Row course because it's been an absolutely amazing experience. The club supports everyone in their experience. Now, we have more and more women joining, especially recently from the Learn to Row scheme.
“There were more women than men actually on the scheme of all different ages and having Heather in attendance will further encourage people to get involved.”
Similar can be said of Team GB, which has more female competitors than men for the first time ever at an Olympic Games this summer.
Director of Rowing Community & Strategy for British Rowing, Helen Rowbotham, is ecstatic to see the changes being made in sport, and as a mum and rower herself, Glover’s influence is all the more inspiring.
She said: “Rowing is a fantastic sport for all women and mums to get involved with, on the waterside and indoor.
“It has something for everybody, which is a message we really want to get across because we're conscious of the traditional stereotypes and we want rid of that. With Helen, having had twins last year, and already having one as well, to achieve what she's achieved is absolutely incredible.
“It’s so inspiring that she's had that dedication and focus and shows what can be done. She is of course also an amazing athlete but we can all take our steps to improve our fitness and mental health.”
No one does more to support grassroots sport as well as our elite Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £36 million each week for good causes. Discover more about how playing The National Lottery supports Team GB’s athletes by visiting www.national-lottery.co.uk/tokyo2020 and get involved by using the hashtags: #TNLAthletes #MakeAmazingHappen