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OLYMPIC ROWING: Stanning breaks the formula
6:00am Thursday 2nd August 2012 in Sport
ACADEMICS have worked out that it takes 10,000 hours of training to make an Olympic champion – but they clearly haven't met Heather Stanning and Helen Glover, who defy their proven formula with a much more simple to understand combination of dedication and determination.
They have taken the fast track to Olympic success and with it earned their place in history as the first British women ever to win an Olympic rowing gold, while also becoming the first British gold medallists of the entire London 2012 Games.
They blazed into an early lead in their women’s pair rowing final, taking the race by the throat and strangling the fight out of rivals they left in their wake.
It was a brutally dominating performance – with every stroke roared by wall of sound – and a fitting way to get the ball rolling for the storied days ahead.
Four years ago Stanning had just been commissioned as an Army officer at Sandhurst and wasn’t even thinking about the Olympics, while Glover had been rowing for two months.
They admit to being chalk and cheese – one is messy, the other is tidy – but British Rowing quickly realised they had the right combination on their hands and drafted in experienced coach Robin Williams to mould them into a powerful and united unit.
“It’s hard to put into words what it means, at the moment it’s a very surreal feeling and I don’t imagine that will change for a few days,” said Stanning.
“Coming across that line was a complete mix of emotions. I wanted to collapse because I had nothing left to give but I also wanted to jump up and down and shout and scream.
“We stuck to our plan and didn't think about anyone around us. Helen called a brilliant race but the crowd were so loud that she was having to yell at the top of her voice so I could hear her.
“We took nothing for granted until we were over the line, nothing was in the bag until we had finished but I was almost too tired to even celebrate.
“It just means so much. To be the first gold medallists, to be the first British women to win a gold, when you consider how many great rowers we've had. It’s just incredible.”
Glover and Stanning were first paired together in 2010, where they showed their promise by winning silver at their very first World Championships. Twelve months later they repeated the trick, now they've got the golden upgrade at the regatta that matters.
Both Glover and Stanning count Kelly Holmes as their sporting inspiration but unlike the double Olympic champion, who used to leave it late to kick for home, they prefer to set the pace.
“It was such a tough field, you can’t get into a lead in a race like that and become complacent. It was painful but we did what we needed to do,” added Glover.
“When it was hurting you could hear the crowd and you knew they were all cheering for you and that was such a boost, that is what home support is all about.
“We knew people were waiting for that first gold and we were aware we might be the first but we wanted to row our own race.
“We told ourselves it was just about our boat, although as soon as we crossed the line we realised how much expectation there had been, we’re just relieved to have delivered and hopefully more medals will follow now.”
Stanning is due to return to her Army career in September, while Glover is only looking ahead to a holiday somewhere nice and warm.
But whatever the future holds they've made history.