Tokyo 2020: Helen Glover 'proud' but keen to return home to children after missing rowing medal

Great Britain’s Helen Glover and Polly Swann react after finishing fourth in the women’s pairs final Credit: PA

Comeback rower Helen Glover said she was 'proud' to finish fourth with partner Polly Swann in the Olympic women's pairs final.

Mother-of-three Glover, who gave birth to twins in 2020 during a four-year career break, also revealed she was eager to return home to see her children.

The pair could not quite claim another medal as she and Swann trailed in winners New Zealand, the Russian Olympic Committee and third-placed Canada.

While the 35-year-old – who became the first mum to row for Britain at an Olympics – missed another chance at a medal, she told ITV News that this time had been the "journey over medals".

"With becoming a mum, with the pandemic, perspective has really shifted for me," - Helen Glover on how winning medals is no longer her biggest priority

She said that while previous Games had been about winning gold, she said her priorities had changed.

"With time, with becoming a mum, with the pandemic, prospective has really shifted for me, I think it has for a lot of people," Glover told ITV News.

"I think this Games is a real celebration of the human spirit and what we can achieve with perseverance, it's almost the Games that shouldn't have happened.

"We fought tooth and nail the whole way down the track... but it's still a bitter pill to swallow" - Polly Swann on missing out on a medal

"For me, this time round, compared to London and Rio it was the journey, the story. Enjoying it was really important, marrying it with being the best mum I could be was also really important.

"So this time, journey over medals has been key."

Earlier Glover tweeted: “SO proud to make the Olympic final & come home with 4th. Polly Swann has been the most incredible teammate and you’ve all been amazing support. Thank you!! Now can we invent a teleport machine to get me straight home to the little ones??”

Glover said they were "disappointed" but knew they had "given it all we had on the day".

Swann told ITV News it was still a "bitter pill to swallow" but they could "hold their heads up high" as they had "fought tooth and nail" for a medal.

“A few more days and I think we'll feel really chuffed with how we got on," Swann said.

Helen Glover Credit: John Walton/PA

Glover also sent an emotional message to her children. She and her husband, broadcaster and adventurer Steve Backshall, are parents to three-year-old Logan and one-year-old twins Kit and Willow.

Glover said she could not wait to get home to see her family.

"It was really sweet speaking to the children and they ground you very quickly. Logan told me he wanted to go downstairs and have some porridge. And the twins just smiled and laughed, they didn't really know what was going on."

UK Sport praised Glover and 33-year-old Swann, who has mixed training with working as an NHS doctor during the coronavirus pandemic – saying both were inspirations.

“Helen Glover makes history as the first mum to row for TeamGB with Polly Swann who juggled training with working as an NHS junior doctor during the pandemic,” the organisation tweeted.

“Neither woman needs a medal to prove they are superhuman and inspire the world.”

Backshall said he was lost for words after the race, deferring to former champion rower Matthew Pinsent for his expert view.

“I don’t know what to say, but Matt (as usual) kind of sums it up,” Backshall tweeted.

Pinsent said Glover and Swann “did well not to get drawn to go too fast early” and then “laid everything on the line to try to get back”.

“Sport can be brutal at times. And 4th is amazing and tough to take at once,” Pinsent tweeted.

Swann told BBC Sport: “I think we always knew in the Olympic final people were going to go out hard.

“We thought we might have a bit more of a buffer but it wasn’t to be.”