Colne rower Gregg Stevenson is relishing a new partnership with a Paralympic legend.
Stevenson is a former Green Beret Army Commando who lost both of his legs when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2009.
Now taking a second bite at the rowing cherry, having tried the sport after the Invictus Games in 2012, Stevenson will make his international debut this week.
He’ll partner two-time Paralympic gold medallist Lauren Rowles at the European Championships, staged at Slovenia’s Lake Bled from May 25-28.
Stevenson said: “It’s super motivational, training every day with Lauren who has won everything there is to win in the sport.
“To learn from her and get her advice, as well as from the coaches, has been brilliant.”
Rowles won back-to-back Paralympic titles with Laurence Whiteley at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, as well as a world title in 2019.
She is aiming to become the first British rower to win three Paralympic titles at Paris 2024.
“Lauren makes the most out of every session,” he said.
🇬🇧 European Rowing Championships: Para Squad 🇬🇧
The following crews have selected to represent the #GBRowingTeam Para Squad at the European Rowing Championships from 25 – 28 May in Bled, Slovenia 🚣
Full team list 👇https://t.co/d2yo6NDOJS pic.twitter.com/slnme15zGN
— British Rowing (@BritishRowing) May 15, 2023
“She turns up, she works hard and she’s present. Just to see that and try to emulate it is the aim.
“It’s learning how to work hard but also how to work smart - unfortunately for me, it’s not just hitting it as hard as I can!”
Rowles is equally effusive about her new partner in crime.
“There’s always some level of apprehension when you start racing with somebody new and a process of learning what makes them tick,” she said.
“It’s been a really fun time with Gregg, he just brings such energy and there’s a level of resilience in him that I’ve never encountered in anyone else.
“He turns up to every session motivated and willing to learn in a way I’ve never seen in anyone I’ve trained with on this team and it motivates me to be better.
“I’ve got no questions about his ability to make the boat go faster than ever before.”
Rowles and Stevenson will be favourites to win gold at the Europeans. Britain finished top of the medal table at the event in 2022, winning ten medals and six golds.
“It’s my first race, so it’s a big stage to go out and do it,” said Stevenson.
“We both want to win and as a squad, we’re used to winning. Things have to go well and we have to perform well to do that. We’re a new crew, so we’ve got to be realistic.”
British Rowing is the governing body for the sport and is responsible for the development of rowing in England and the training and selection of rowers to represent Great Britain. The GB Rowing Team is supported by the National Lottery Sports Fund. To find out more, and to follow the team, head to https://www.britishrowing.org/