The competitive drive remains as strong as ever for Helen Glover but you sense that there is a little more perspective for the mum-of-three who was in reflective mood after embarking on her bid for a third Olympic title.
Glover and Polly Swann kicked off their Games in the women’s pair with third place in their heat, good enough for a place in Tuesday’s semi-finals, but not quite the all-conquering standard we have been accustomed to with Glover.
Defeat clearly still stings, but on the day her oldest son Logan turned three, Glover was also able to make a more considered assessment of her performance at the Sea Forest Waterway.
She said: “It’s good to progress to the next round. I feel like we both know there is more to come, it wasn’t our perfect row but I guess there’s definitely value in learning in the early rounds.
“We’re so focused out here that I don’t have that much time and every time I see videos (of the children), it’s a really nice grounding break. It takes me away from the Olympic village. It’s Logan’s birthday today. So there are so many more important things going on than just racing a heat in Tokyo.
“There’s my little boy at home, we’ll celebrate when I get back. When I think about what they all mean to me, especially on a day like his birthday, everything I do out there on the water is definitely for them.”
Glover has been swapping videos with the children until she is able to be reunited with the rest of the family, with a birthday message planned for Logan.
And there was clearly a sense of emotion at the remarkable journey that has seen her become the first mother to represent Team GB in rowing at the Olympics, five years after claiming her second Olympic gold in Rio.
She added: “Logan sent a video message last night and said he was proud of me. A big part of wanting to do this was to bring them along for the journey and I think now they are seeing the fruits of the labour of the ergos in the living room and the watt bike in the utility room, and lifting weights between making their dinner.
“It makes sense a little bit. Putting all that hard work into the journey with them alongside me is key.”
For all that, there will be some concerns at the performance of the women’s pair, beaten by Australia and the Russian Olympic Committee, with their time the slowest of the eight automatic qualifiers for the semi-finals.
Despite that, Glover believes there is still a lot more to come from the pair in what should be a battle to make the final.
She added: “We know we’ve done better in training, we know we’ve felt more together in training, which is actually positive. It would be more frustrating if we’d had a perfect row where we didn’t have anything to improve on.”
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