22 July 2018
Rowles ready for World Championship return after injury nightmare
Two major operations and one Paralympic title later, Lauren Rowles is readier than ever to return to World Championship rowing.
Having rowed to a maiden world silver in 2015, the past three years have featured more ups and downs than Rowles could have imagined– still in relative career infancy aged 20.
But already she has represented ParalympicsGB on the biggest stage of all, at Rio 2016 – leaving Brazil with TA mixed double sculls gold in her luggage, alongside Laurence Whiteley.
Now the pair are back and ready to take on the World Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, but it’s far from been an easy ride for the former wheelchair racer.
Twice she has been under the knife, forcing her to miss the 2017 season – now Rowles is determined to be Great Britain’s golden girl all over again.
“I had spinal surgery last July and that was a big knock. I had six months out of the sport and that was really hard to come back from,” she said.
“Just as I started going through rehab for that injury, I got told that I had injuries in my arms and you need to have those operated on.
It was definitely a challenge to my own willpower and my hunger for the sport.
“I think that my ability to come back from two major surgeries just shows how hungry I am for it and how hard I am willing to work.
“Every set back makes you stronger and I truly believe that.”
Rowles was aged just 18 when she fulfilled her dream of becoming a Paralympic champion, her performance in Rio one that she won’t ever forget.
It’s an achievement that earned her an MBE too, setting a world record in the heats with Whiteley before taking her place atop the podium after the final.
But with recognition comes expectation too – at least from those around her – ahead of September’s meet in Bulgaria.
“Being selected for a World Championship team is a huge honour,” Rowles added.
Rowles and Laurence Whiteley joined forces at Rio 2016
“Being able to represent your country is something that you dream of when you are a young kid and being selected for my second World Championships is particularly exciting especially after I missed out last year.
“I feel as we are the reigning Paralympic champions, that puts us in front of everyone else, but we definitely are looking to go out there and put in our best performance.”
After developing transverse myelitis aged 13, Bromsgrove’s Rowles adopted wheelchair racing and quickly rose through the ranks to become the youngest track and field athlete in England’s 2014 Commonwealth Games team just three years later.
Switching to the rowing programme in early 2015, Rowles excelled rapidly in the water to become Paralympic champion within two years of taking to the water.
That Rio feeling is a sensation Rowles will never forget – now she wants it all over again.
“Winning gold was a life changing experience and something I have dreamed of since I was 11 years old,” said Rowles.
I remember writing on a piece of paper when I was 15 that I wanted to be in the Paralympics and I certainly made that dream come true.
“It was a life changing experience and the memories from Rio I will take with me for the rest of my life.
“Since the Games, it has been two very challenging years for me and that has been a bit of a blow to the experience I had in Rio.
“It certainly has enhanced the experience going into Tokyo. We want to replicate the success in Tokyo and if your struggle has been that much harder then it makes that victory much sweeter.”
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