Great Britain

Helen Glover on course for Olympic medal to complete amazing comeback from retirement and 3 kids as she reaches final

Helen Glover and Polly Swann will go for gold tomorrow after booking their spot in Thursday's pairs final.

The rowers, who came together just four months ago, qualified in second place from their heat on a baking hot lunchtime in Tokyo.

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Glover, the two-time defending Olympic champion, and Swann, who worked as a doctor during lockdown, finished the semi-final in a time of 6:49.39 at the Sea Forest Waterway.

The pair were 0.69 seconds behind the Greek pair, who are the world leaders for 2021, but they will be outsiders for a medal when they face the favourites from New Zealand.

Glover, 35, had retired after winning this event for the second time at the Rio 2016 Olympics and had three children with husband TV presenter Steve Backshall.

She is trying to show that mums can return to top-level sport or careers after having kids.

Glover trained for Tokyo on two hours sleep a night while raising her three kids.

Before the Olympics, she said: “It was never in my mind that I would compete for a third time. 

“When I look back to New Year’s Day 2020 I was pregnant with twins and now I’m competing in Tokyo. I still can’t believe it.

“But I don’t think I would be heading to the Olympics if it wasn’t for lockdown.

“The time spent at home gave me an opportunity to focus on regaining my fitness and strength, particularly after the birth of twins.

“Truthfully, exercising kept my energy levels up - the kids rarely slept through the night so I was living on two to three hours kip most days.

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“After a few weeks I noticed my scores and times started getting better and I began to wonder if I could actually be the first woman in British Rowing history to make an Olympic team after having children. That challenge kept me going.

“Once I had committed to the Olympics, I knew I couldn’t nap when the kids did - so I forced myself to get up and train.

“I made it work around the kids routine and if Steve helped in the morning I would train then - normally I would rely on our neighbour too but I couldn’t because of Covid.

“When the kids slept I trained, in the evenings when they were asleep I would train and sometimes even when the kids were playing next to me or climbing over me."

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Team GB star Bianca Walkden breaks down in tears and claims she was 'robbed' after missing out on gold at Tokyo 2020

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