Guide Dogs charity brings four-footed support for GB Rowing Team

Rhiannon Jones and James Roe with four-footed friendsA new partnership has been launched between the Siemens-sponsored GB Rowing Team Adaptive Squad and the charity Guide Dogs.

The charity is providing support for the development of visually impaired rowers within the GB Rowing Team to encourage visually impaired athletes to see rowing as a potential sport for them.

Representatives from the charity and the GB Rowing Team teamed up recently at the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake, Caversham, to mark the start of the relationship.

Tom Pey, Guide Dogs Director of External Affairs, said: “Guide Dogs is committed to ensuring blind and partially sighted people can enjoy the same freedom and independence as everyone else so they can live their lives the way they want to.

“We are very proud to be supporting the development of visually impaired athletes and are thrilled with the partnership that has developed between us and the GB Rowing Team.”

Louise Kingsley, Team Manager of the GB Rowing Team Adaptive Squad, said: “We are delighted Guide Dogs has chosen rowing as one of the Paralympic sports they are supporting.

“Providing they have the physiology suitable for rowing, VI athletes can be strong elements in the Legs, Trunks and Arms category.

“We are looking forward to working with Guide Dogs to develop more VI rowers and help to ensure that the GB Rowing Team Adaptive Squad retains its position as one of the strongest nations in Paralympic rowing.”

The crew that competes in the Legs, Trunks and Arms Mixed Coxed Four event (LTAMix4+) can include up to two visually impaired rowers of which at least one must be classified B1 or B2.

The GB Rowing Team’s LTAMix4+ are the reigning World champions, having won gold at the World Championships in Poznan in 2009. The crew has made a successful start to this season, winning two gold medals in the international regatta in Varese, Italy, and gold in the World Cup in Bled, Slovenia, at the end of May.

The current LTAMix4+ includes two visually impaired rowers. Naomi Riches, from High Wycombe, has been part of the crew since 2004 and has won four World Championships and a bronze medal in the Paralympic Games in 2008. James Roe, from Stratford-upon-Avon, joined the GB Rowing Team Adaptive Squad last year and was a member of the gold medal winning LTAMix4+ crew at the World Championships in Poznan.

Among the development rowers training hard to break into the national team is Kate Jones from Aberdeen, who has recently joined the GB Rowing Team Adaptive Squad after being identified through a Talent ID scheme.