Rower Helen Glover proud but keen to return home after ruling out next Olympic Games - what she said

Former double Olympic champion Helen Glover has finished fourth – and ruled out competing in next Games

Comeback rower Helen Glover finished fourth with Polly Swann in the Olympic women’s pairs final - and said it would be her last games.

Glover, the dual Olympic champion chasing glory at a third straight games after almost four years off to start a family, could not quite claim another medal as she and Swann trailed in winners New Zealand, the Russian Olympic Committee and third-placed Canada.

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At a glance: 5 key points

- Glover, 35, said she is looking forward to getting back to her children, twins Kit and Willow, 1 and Logan, 3 after becoming the first mum to row for Team GB in the Olympics

- She said she was proud with her efforts and confirmed these would be her last games

Helen Glover and Polly Swann of Team GB came in fourth place during the women's pair final on day six of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Maja Hitij/Getty)

- After stepping away from rowing to get married and have three children, Helen returned to the team in 2021 with the goal of being the first mother to compete for the GB Rowing Team

– UK Sport praised both women and gave a nod to Polly Swann who juggled training with working as an NHS junior doctor during the pandemic at Borders Hospital in Scotland

What’s been said

“The reward is knowing we crossed the line giving it our all, the frustration will be coming away thinking we had more and we didn’t,” Glover said.

“Had it been a flat water day we would have expected to come through for that last place but it wasn’t.

“It was very hard to challenge in the final sprint but we still tried.”

Glover also confirmed, as expected, this would be her last Olympics.

“In Rio I said it was my last one,” she told reporters. “This time I’m saying that it definitely is and everyone around me keeps saying ‘No, no, you’ll be back doing the single!’

“I definitely don’t see myself doing the single. That’s definitely not in the pipeline.”

Glover also sent an emotional message to her children. She and her husband, broadcaster and adventurer Steve Backshall, are parents to three-year-old Logan and one-year-old twins Kit and Willow.

She told BBC Sport: “They’re sometimes up at this time in the morning so they might be watching now.

“I love them so much, they’ve been my inspiration. I never saw myself getting back in a rowing boat until they came along. You can do anything you want to do.

“Trying and failing is not a problem, as long as you try. All the parents who have supported me on the way, thank you for your messages.”


Meanwhile, there was more rowing heartache for Britain in the women’s lightweight double sculls, with Emily Craig and Imogen Grant missing a bronze medal by just 0.01 seconds.

In an incredible finish, the top four were separated by just half a second, with Italy taking gold from France and Holland.

As of 29 July, Great Britain currently sits at sixth in the Olympic Games leadership table – with five golds, seven silvers and six bronze medals – with athletic stars in the sporting spotlight from 30 July.