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World Champions amongst rowers selected for ParalympicsGB at Rio 2016

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on 30-06-2016 12:25

Meet the nine rowers selected to compete for ParalympicsGB in Rio, including several World Championship medallists.

Grace Clough, Daniel Brown, Pamela Relph, James Fox and cox Oliver James, the reigning World Champions in the mixed coxed four (LTAMix4+), head the selections.

Great Britain has claimed the World Championship title in this boat in three consecutive years since London 2012.

The 2015 World Championship final was one of the most thrilling of the overall event with the GB four holding off the Americans by a narrow margin. This event is increasingly competitive on the global stage.

Relph is the only returning member of the victorious gold medal crew from London 2012.  A physics graduate from University of Birmingham, Relph took up rowing after arthritis led to reduced movement in her wrists and ended her planned Army career.

"The team that has been selected is far stronger than any I have been a part of in my six years of rowing for GB." Pamela Relph

Relph said today: “I am over the moon to be selected for my second Paralympic Games and feel so excited and nervous at the prospect of trying to defend my gold medal from London 2012. This season has been the toughest yet and I am looking forward to going to Rio to race the rest of the world. The team that has been selected is far stronger than any I have been a part of in my six years of rowing for GB and I am proud to be a part of such a talented squad.”

James Fox and cox Oliver James are triple World Champions with Relph.  James took up coxing whilst at the University of Warwick and Fox, a former non-disabled club rower, classified into para-rowing because of a congenital ankle condition.

Grace Clough tries Cycling at ParalympicsGB Sports Fest 2013Grace Clough and Dan Brown are the most recent additions to the crew, joining the boat in 2014 for the World Championships that year and contributing to World titles in both 2014 and 2015. Clough – who graduated from University of Leeds with a first in Sociology – was first introduced to disability sport in 2013 when she attended a ParalympicsGB Sports Fest event at the EIS in Sheffield.

Also selected today is Rachel Morris, who has previously competed for ParalympicsGB in cycling at two Paralympic Games, winning gold in Beijing and bronze in London, and who now turns her attention to the women’s single scull (ASW1x).

Already a World silver medallist in her new sport from the 2015 World Championships, Morris will be seeking to add her to Paralympic medal tally when she competes in Rio this summer.  On the eve of being selected, Morris won world cup gold in Poznan, beating the reigning World Champion.

"I'm so happy to have had such an incredible few years changing from a cyclist to a rower and had the chance & people believing in me." Rachel Morris

Morris said today: "I'm so proud to be wearing ParalympicsGB kit again, to be representing my country is such a privilege. I'm so happy to have had such an incredible few years changing from a cyclist to a rower and had the chance & people believing in me. I would like to thank the GB Rowing Team support staff and Tom Dyson for coaching me and helping me achieve new goals and getting me into the position I am now, both mentally and physically.

"My family have been such a support by providing understanding and calmness as I'm challenged further and further to set new levels.”

A relatively new partnership in the mixed double sculls (TAMix2x) is selected, with Laurence Whiteley joining up with Lauren Rowles.

Whiteley had competed in a non-Paralympic class boat while the GB Rowing Team undertook a two-year-long search for a partner who could compete alongside him in the double. Teenager Rowles was spotted by GB Rowing Team staff by chance at Stoke Mandeville and transitioned from athletics where she was a successful wheelchair racer having competed for England at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games in the T53/54 1,500m. The duo first competed internationally at the 2015 World Championships, where they won silver.

The pairing have not raced internationally this season while Rowles has been taking her A-levels.

Whiteley said “After what was a very uncertain start to my first Paralympic cycle, missing the first two World Championships due to not having a partner to row with in the trunk and arms mixed double scull, I am delighted to finish this Paralympic cycle by being selected to row for Great Britain in the TAMx2.”

Selected for his third consecutive Games, Tom Aggar will compete in the arms-shoulders (ASM1x) men’s single scull event. Aggar is the longest-serving of the para-rowers currently on the squad. He started rowing in 2007 and made history as the first ever Paralympic champion in the men’s arms-only single scull when he won gold at Beijing 2008, where the sport made its Paralympic debut. He is a 2014 and 2015 world silver medallist and will be seeking to add to his medal collection in Rio.

Penny Briscoe, Chef de Mission of ParalympicsGB, said: “The GB Rowing Team is known internationally for producing consistently outstanding athletes and crews and this para-rowing team is absolutely no different – today I am delighted that I am announcing such a strong team to join ParalympicsGB for Rio 2016.

“These rowers have proved themselves on the international stage and I am confident they will do the same at the Paralympic Games." Penny Briscoe

“These rowers have proved themselves on the international stage and I am confident they will do the same at the Paralympic Games. I would like to thank all their coaches and support staff at GB Rowing for all their hard work to produce this team.” 

Sir David Tanner, British Rowing Performance Director said: I am confident that this team will prove the strongest that GB has ever sent to a Paralympic Games.  Our para rowers have worked daily with the GB Olympic Squad since London 2012 and this integration has produced real dividends in improved performance. I am sure that our four boats will do GB proud out in Rio.”

Louise Kingsley, Team Leader for Rowing, said: “I am extremely proud that we are able to announce a full para-rowing team today, this has only been achieved through the dedication and hard work of all of our coaches and support staff. The quality of international competition has increased significantly since London 2012, we had a great World Championships in 2015 however, some very good new crews have achieved qualification slots this year for the Paralympic Games so we will leave no stone unturned as we challenge for places on the podium in Rio.”

Today’s announcement takes the number of selected athletes to 180 from 15 sports.

Selected athletes are:

Rachel Morris - women’s single scull (ASW1x)

Home town: Farnham

Main training base: Caversham

Club: Guildford RC

Tom Aggar - men’s single scull (ASM1x)

Home town: London

Main training base: Caversham

Club: Marlow RC

Lauren Rowles - mixed double sculls (TAMix2x)

Home town: Bromsgrove

Main training base: Caversham

Club: Marlow RC

Laurence Whiteley - mixed double sculls (TAMix2x)

Home town: Northallerton

Main training base: Caversham

Club: Tees RC

Oliver James (cox) - mixed coxed four (LTAMix4+)

Home town: Henley-on-Thames

Main training base: Caversham

Club: Leander

Grace Clough - mixed coxed four (LTAMix4+)

Home town: Sheffield

Main training base: Caversham

Club: Nottingham RC

James Fox - mixed coxed four (LTAMix4+)

Home town: Peterborough

Main training base: Caversham

Club: University of London

Pam Relph - mixed coxed four (LTAMix4+)

Home town: Aylesbury

Main training base: Caversham

Club: Leander

Daniel Brown - mixed coxed four (LTAMix4+)

Home town: Reading

Main training base: Caversham

Club: Upper Thames Rowing Club

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