Grace Clough is up for the fight to regain her place in the PR3 mixed coxed four boat for Tokyo.

The 2016 Paralympic champion injured her pelvis before the 2018 World Rowing Championships and has taken a year out of competition to recover from the injury.

At this year’s global gathering her beloved boat retained their title and secured gold, with the 28-year-old watching on from her sofa.

That didn’t diminish Clough’s pride in the feats of her team-mates as Britain qualified three boats for the Paralympics.

“I knew that going into the World Championships that my crew were doing really well and I had heard from training that the boat was going really quick,” she said.

“It was actually really exciting and nice watching them on TV.


It's just a seat we're going for

Grace Clough

“I think for five years being in the boat you don’t know what it’s like as a viewer watching it and the nerves that you see around it.

“I remember looking at my watch before the final thinking they would be boating now, they’d be doing the warm-up and re-living what we would be doing.

“It definitely wasn’t my year to race or my year to be there because I needed time to recuperate, so it’s just pride that they’ve done really well.”

The crew, with James Fox the only survivor from Rio, also clinched a berth for next year’s Paralympic Games with their performances in Linz Ottensheim, Austria.

Clough moved back home to Sheffield for her year of rehabilitation and used the time as a mental break, as well as a physical one.

Training has begun in earnest for the para-rower as she looks to reclaim her spot in the boat, expecting colleagues to push her hard for the privilege of representing ParalympicsGB.

Clough won Rio gold with James Fox, Daniel Brown and Pam Relph

“I’ve raced with both the girls that have raced this year so in 2017 I raced with Giedre Rakauskaite and in 2018 I raced with Ellen Buttrick,” Clough explained.

“There’s just respect there that it’s nothing personal, it’s just a seat that we’re going for and we’ve got to enjoy pushing each other as far as we can do

“If someone else gets in that boat over me, I’ll have pushed them every step of the way so they will be better for it and vice versa.”

Having made her way back from a serious injury the four-time world champion believes being on the start line next year would be as sweet as winning in Rio.

“Tokyo would mean everything. You don’t know how hard it is coming back from injury until you’ve done it,” Clough added.

“Looking back to Rio, I got ill but I didn’t get injured and I had a lot of support from the team getting me back to health.

“Whereas this one has been a bit more of a personal journey and so I think I would feel a huge sense of pride and achievement.

“They say your second is never as good as your first but with how hard it has been, I think it would feel just as lovely.”

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