Tokyo Olympics: Team GB rower Helen Glover 'proud' despite finishing fourth but excited to return home to her kids

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Despite missing out on a medal, Helen Glover says she is "incredibly proud" to finish fourth in her Olympic final but is itching to get home to her kids.

For British rower Glover, just qualifying for the final of the women's pair with partner Polly Swann was an achievement considering she retired from the sport four years ago to focus on her family.

In that time, the rower married TV presenter Steve Backshall in 2016 and had three children - including twins last year.

If Glover had won a medal in Tokyo she would have been the first British female rower to win one after having a family.

In the end, she could not make history but, speaking after the race, said she had done her best.

"We gave it all we had on the day," she told Sky News. "I think we can be proud of the way we rowed."

It had been a "really tough route to get to this final", which was held less than 24 hours after the semi-final.

Glover said she thought of her children at the starting line. "I kind of think you end up thinking of them in everything you do, and that's why this journey's been so different," she explained.

"Every stroke I took before London and before Rio was thinking about gold and outcome, and this time it's been about journey, about getting home in time for their nap time and what time their next snack is and what time bedtime is, and fitting rowing around life."

It had been "important" to make her family "proud" of her, she added.

If the Olympics had gone ahead as scheduled last summer, Glover would probably have been watching from home having only decided to make a run for the Games last year.

Alongside partner Polly Swann, she claimed the European women's pair title in Italy in March - her first taste of competitive sport since she stepped away from the sport.

The double gold medal winner couldn't make it three on the bounce, despite a good race.

Glover and Swann were in contention all the way through but were eased out by Canada for bronze.

However, Glover was clearly proud of her effort after the race and she thanked people for their support on Twitter.

"Thank you for your support and messages. So proud to make the Olympic final and come home with 4th. Polly Swann has been the most incredible teammate and you've all been amazing support," she wrote.

"Thank you!! Now can we invent a teleport machine to get me straight home to the little ones??"

Glover, who turned 35 in June, has not only had to contend with the usual demands of elite sport in an Olympic year but managing her training regime around her family commitments during a global pandemic.

Her children were still tiny when the opportunity to try for Tokyo came along during lockdown.

Prior to the games, she said her day started at 5am every morning with Logan, her eldest son, waking up.

Two and a half hours later she was off to train and said it's a "juggling act" but something she enjoyed.

"If I compare my priorities and what makes me happy now, with my pre-London and pre-Rio times, I probably wasn't as happy as I am now," she said.

"It felt like so much pressure and so much was riding on it, and now it's just part of my story, part of my story I get to share with my children.

"Win or lose, I go back to being a mum the very next day, and that actually takes a bit of weight off my shoulders and means I'm enjoying the whole process a bit more."

Glover won golds at London and Rio with Heather Stanning but this time she was with Polly Swann, with whom she won the world championships in 2013.

A back injury ruined Swann's hopes of appearing at the London Games in 2012, where Glover teamed with Stanning to claim the first of what would be two consecutive gold medals.

Swann rebounded as part of the women's eight that won a silver medal on her Games debut in Rio, before her medical course evolved into a role as a junior doctor in Livingston helping to combat the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

For all Swann's desire to get back in a boat, she concedes her subsequent exposure to the seriousness of the virus has instilled her not only with a valuable sense of perspective but a desire to get back to continue the job.

"I was there (in hospital) for four months," said Swann.

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"It was like being in performance sport; all working together for a fantastic performance. It gave me a huge sense of pride.

"I was a tiny cog in a huge machine. I wasn't in ICU ventilating COVID patients but nevertheless I was so proud I could fulfil my role. I can't wait to go back in August."

Team GB's Bianca Walkden, who won bronze in the over-67kg taekwondo category at the Olympics, told Sky News she was happy to have come away with a medal but "deep down" had been "going for gold".

She added: "I set myself to get gold, no matter what, and that's the only colour I was happy with.

"When it got taken away from me I just felt empty and I felt a bit like 'what's the point now'."

But she rallied and said she wanted to "teach the next generation and the kids that no matter what life throws at you, you've got to stand up and show the champion you are, and that's what made me go out and fight for my bronze medal".

Meanwhile, members of Australia's track and field team have been forced to self-isolate after one of America's star athletes tested positive for COVID-19.

World pole vault champion and Rio 2016 bronze medallist Sam Kendricks has been ruled out of the Games, with US officials tweeting: "The health and safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority.

"In alignment with local rules and protocols he has been transferred to a hotel to be placed in isolation and is being supported by the USATF and USOPC staff."

The Australian Olympic Committee said team members are isolating in their rooms as a precautionary measure and undergoing testing procedures in line with Australian Olympic Team protocols.

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