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Grassroots to Glory - Lauren Rowles

Grassroots to Glory - Lauren Rowles

Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley. Credit - Imagecomms

When most of England was celebrating ‘Freedom Day’ on July 19, the couple was saying an emotional goodbye. The risk of giving each other Covid, they decided, was too high, Neither wanted to be the cause of ending the other’s medal hopes, so they agreed to stay separate in the weeks leading up to the Games.  It was also a shared love of fitness that brought the pair together.  

"Jude and I both really into Crossfit,” said Rowles, “and we'd started doing sessions with other women from Paralympic sports during lockdown. 
"We were like ‘you know what, we need to keep training girls, let’s support each other’, then I kind of on the sly started training one-on-one with Jude.  We would just come up with the craziest training things and I’d be like ‘alright then, I’ll do it.’  When rules relaxed a little bit and we were allowed to have a bit of a summer last year, we started meeting up and it went from there really." 

It’s been ten years since a 13-year-old Rowles woke up one morning, paralysed from the waist down. One year later she was inspired by London 2012 – which she watched from her hospital bed at Stoke Mandeville – to take up wheelchair racing, becoming the youngest member of the England athletics team at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. 

Thanks to National Lottery players, the fortunes of ParalympicsGB have transformed over the past two decades, helping Britain become one of the best sporting nations in the world. It was Rowles chance discovery of rowing, following a lucky meeting with a member of the sport’s talent identification team, that completely changed her life. 

“I think I knew the very first day in the boat,” she said. “The feeling of freedom it gave me is like nothing I ever experienced.   I learned so much with athletics, I learned what it means to be an athlete, but rowing taught me why I love sport.” 

Though Hamer might argue otherwise, Rowles insisted: "It's not about medals and it's not about winning, it's about loving being on the water every day and enjoying every stroke you take. 

"I just love being on the water, even when I retire I’m still going to row."   

You rather sense that retirement could be some years off. 


No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £36 million each week for good causes including grassroots and elite sport. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtags: #TNLAthletes #MakeAmazingHappen

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