Lancaster rower Polly Swann still proud despite finishing outside the medals at Olympics

Lancaster rower Polly Swann was denied a medal at the Tokyo Olympics after finishing fourth in the women's coxless pair event.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 6:57 am
Updated Thursday, 29th July 2021, 9:49 am

Together with her partner Helen Glover, the 33-year-old was unable to add to the silver she won in Rio.

The GB pair recorded a time of 6:54.96 more than two seconds slower than the Canadian pair Hillary Janssens and Caileigh Filmer, who won bronze.

It was the New Zealand team of Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler who won gold in a time of 6:50.19, which was over a second quicker than silver medal winners Elena Oriabinskaia and Vasilisa Stepanova of Russia.

Polly Swann, front, and Helen Glover look dejected after missing out on a medal

Two-time gold medal winner Helen Glover had retired after the last Games and has become a mother, while qualified doctor Swann answered the call of her country this time last year during the Covid-19 pandemic by working in a hospital.

She said: "For Helen, she was looking after three kids. For me, I was working in a hospital a year ago today," said Swann.

"I don't think there's many people in the Olympic athlete set-up that can say these things and be in a final.

"We certainly fought our all to try and get onto that podium. I can't fault our determination for that, and more so the way that we fought every day in training.

We got into the boat together in March and every day since then has been pushing each other to the limit.

“I think we’ve worked exceptionally well doing that, we’ve worked well as a team – that’s what drives me, that’s my motivation and me and Helen as a team have done something special together."

Glover, who gave birth to twins Kit and Willow last year, is the first mother to make the nation's Olympic rowing team. She and her husband, television presenter Steve Backshall, had son Logan in 2019.

Her comeback began last March, when the Tokyo Games were postponed for 12 months until this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"For both of us, this has felt more like a journey than anything we've done. We even look to the route of getting to the start line and how many crews fall to the wayside," said Glover.

"You can never say that a place in the final isn't exciting.

"The last year for both of us is one we're going to look back on and I think when you're caught up in the moment of it and the day-to-day grind of only having one year, it feels so immediate."

Swann will be back in her role working for the NHS next week and did not discount the possibility of another Olympic appearance or even having a baby.

“It’s at Borders General Hospital and I’m looking forward to having a new team behind me and seeing what I can do," she said.

“I’ve always been tempted to do a Helen Glover and do a bit of a rowing comeback. Maybe one year to work, one year to have a baby, one year to come back – we’ll see!”

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