Para-rowing Trials: ‘Any opportunity to get better at the new distance and the routine is really welcome’

Paralympic champion Laurence Whiteley looks ahead to the GB Rowing Team Para-rowing Trials this weekend


Laurence Whiteley at World Rowing Cup II in Poznan - Naomi Baker

After an up-and-down season in 2017, Paralympic champion Laurence Whiteley is looking forward to testing his fitness and form at the GB Rowing Team Para-rowing Trials this weekend.

Prospective squad members will gather at the national training centre in Caversham on Saturday to try and catch the eye of the coaches as the testing process for the 2018 season gets underway.

The PR3 mixed coxed four won gold for Great Britain at the 2017 World Rowing Championships – the first championship event to see Para-rowing contested over 2,000m – and Whiteley says the performances of the GB athletes fills him with confidence going into the new season.

“With the rule change, moving racing to 2,000m, there have been a lot of question marks in the first year,” he said. “You can’t just double the training, so there has been a lot of experimenting with what works and what doesn’t and that will all be honed in the next couple of years leading up to the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

“So knowing that the training programme so far has yielded some very positive results gives us good confidence. The coaches know what they’re doing and the programme can be adapted to fit the new distance.”

Whiteley’s 2017 season saw him win gold and bronze in the PR2 single scull at the Gavirate International Regatta, before rejoining his Rio 2016 partner Lauren Rowles to win silver in the mixed double scull at the World Rowing Cup in Poznan.

Unfortunately, injury to Rowles meant the pair did not compete at the World Championships in Florida in September, but Whiteley is looking forward to getting back in the boat with her in the coming months.

“[Lauren] is certainly eager to return, and as am I. We’re very keen to get back in the boat and to start training together again,” he said. “She’s been away for a few months, so having her personality around is something that has been missed.”

Saturday’s Trials sees rowers compete on the Caversham water in a 2,000m time trial. Racing against the clock, rather than next to opponents, can have its difficulties, Whiteley says, but the Teesside rower is keen to test himself against the competition.

“I’ve only been back in training for two weeks, so it’s certainly a good benchmark to see where I’m coming into things and where the squad lies,” he said. “For a lot of the development athletes it’s a good indicator to see where they stack up against people already on the squad.

“With it being a small squad, [Trials] are a good way of seeing where the standard lies outside the main team, and it reminds us that just because we’re currently on the squad the boat isn’t automatically ours.

“We’re all relatively new at racing the 2km distance, so any opportunity we have to get better at the distance and the routine around that is really welcome.”

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