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Team GB’s Helen Glover and Polly Swann finish fourth in women’s pair at Tokyo Olympics

·2-min read
Team GB’s Helen Glover and Polly Swann finish fourth in women’s pair at Tokyo Olympics

Britain’s rowers have had a propensity for fourth-place finishes at the Tokyo Olympics and so it played out again for Helen Glover and Polly Swann.

There was none of the dramatics of Thursday’s finals as the British pair found themselves in medal contention for much of the race before fading in the final metres to finish nearly three seconds off a bronze as New Zealand took the gold.

Glover, who had still been breastfeeding just three months ago, had set her sights on a third successive gold after the mother-of-three’s decision to come out of retirement and go for a third Games.

Her initial goal had always been simply to make it to Tokyo, recently admitting she had not known whether it was possible to aspire for another medal after golds at London 2012 and again in Rio.

The pair had endured a horror start to the Olympic regatta after struggling in their opening heat, but Glover and Swann have got better round by round. Alas, a medal was not quite to be.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Both have had interesting but differing pathways to get to Tokyo. For Glover, she has three children aged three and under – son Logan has celebrated his birthday in her absence – and only took up rowing during the first Covid lockdown to give her some headspace while her baby twins were sleeping.

But the times got better and better, and another Olympic call-up came.

After the race, Glover said: “Right now, I’m pleased we put everything on the line. We knew it was going to be really big, a big final to be in. Getting here was a tough route and so we knew when we crossed having spent everything. Looking back on the way we got here, I think we are pleased with that result. It shows a lot of our hard work.”

Swann’s lockdown experience could not have been more different.

When Covid struck, the recently qualified doctor stepped away from the rowing programme to help the NHS tackle the pandemic.

And she returns to hospital work in Scotland next week, as she called it “with another team around me”.

There was only one other boat in action in Thursday’s finals, the women’s lightweight double sculls of Emily Craig and Imogen Grant.

They had led at halfway and were in a blanket of four boats to come over the line, agonisingly denied a bronze medal by just one hundredth of a second behind the Netherlands. The gold went to Italy.

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