West Country women on course for second Olympic Gold

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning had only rowed together for two years before the last Games. Credit: ITV West Country

The women rowers from the West Country who won gold at London twenty twelve have been selected for their second Olympic games.

Heather Stanning from Somerset and Helen Glover from Cornwall won the women's pairs event four years ago after just two years of rowing together.

They were paired up after both being introduced to the sport through a Team GB talent identification programme, training at Bath University and Minerva Rowing Club in Bath.

We've worked really hard over the last four years to become a staple boat but anytime you get selected, especially for an Olympic team, it's a special occasion.

Helen Glover
Helen Glover, Team GB

It's the first time in four years that we're part of Team GB again, not just British rowing. That's really cool!

Heath Stanning
Heather Stanning, Team GB Credit: ITV West Country

Not only did they win gold in London, they set a new Olympic record, won the first gold medal for Team GB at the 2012 Games and the first ever Olympic gold medal for British women's rowing.

Helen says whilst its been a incredible journey there have been a lot of sacrifices along the way.

"In one sense it is a fairytale story, you can paint a beautiful picture of it but all the blood, the sweat and the tears that goes into it in between races is what you don't see."

Helen Glover

Winning a gold medal the Olympic Games is the pinnacle for most elite athletes, something most of them will never acheive.

Having reached that goal so early on in their rowing career, it would have been easy to become complacent.

Posing at Henley-On-Thames at the official selection announcement Credit: ITV West Country

But not Glover and Stanning, they went on to become World, World Cup and European champions in the women's coxless pairs. They also hold the current World, Olympic and European records.

While they won in London - in Rio they believe they can have an even stronger row:

Their performance in London 2012 generated a huge amount of support from all over the West Country - people really got behind the women, those who weren't at the event gathered in pubs and sports centres across the region to cheer them to victory.

This year the pair say rowing on the other side of the Atlantic will be a different experience but they'll be spurred on by the knowledge of all the support they have back home.

Their excitement at being a part of Team GB again is clear. Credit: ITV West Country

Helen Glover was born in Truro and grew up in Penzance, Cornwall. She took up rowing in 2008 under the GB Start programme after applying to the 'Sporting Giants' scheme (which identifies people with athletic potential).

Heather Stanning - a Royal Artillery officer in the army - is from Yeovil in Somerset. She started rowing in 2006 under the GB Start programme and was given special dispensation from the army in 2010 to pursue an Olympic career.