Heather continues to follow the golden path to Rio

Heather Stanning - still picking up golds on the Road to Rio
Heather Stanning – still picking up gold on the Road to Rio

THE LOSSIEMOUTH ROWER who put a golden sparkle on the Olympic Games four years ago is on course to repeat her achievement this summer.

Heather Stanning and her rowing partner Helen Glover were first to strike UK Gold four years ago – but there was little time for the Lossiemouth and former Gordonstoun girl to relax on the glory, resuming her Army career soon after the games and taking some ‘time out’ from her sport.

The pair were never ready to retire, however, and the last 18 months in particular has seen them steadily build an already fearsome international reputation – and at the weekend they underlined their credentials as favourites to retain the Olympic title by winning European gold in Germany.

The pair remain undefeated since 2011 and, on the evidence of their latest outing, that will not change any time soon as the rowed to an 8-second victory in choppy conditions, Heather saying: “We may be an experienced crew but we’re not experienced in these conditions. So we had to concentrate.

“It was a very technical row and looking after the boat was very important in those conditions – it wasn’t too much fun out there.”

Looking ahead to the Olympics, Heather said: “This summer will be the culmination of four years of hard work from the whole team, and not just Heather and myself who fingers crossed will be in the boat.

“It will be tough for us now going to Rio and defending our title but we have put in the long hours and long days throughout the winter to prepare for this. It is relentless, when we go out in the summer and race over 2000m people think that is all we ever do – but actually, it is the rowing in the wind and rain and snow, that is when the hard work really gets done.

“The wind has just been relentless over the winter – there have been winters in the past when we remember clear blue skies and dead flat water, even if bitterly cold if the water is flat then that’s brilliant. This [past] winter has been the absolute opposite because the wind has been relentless.

“You don’t want to go out and have your best race at the end of May when you actually want to be performing in the beginning of August, we make sure we put together the race plan the way we want to, and that is probably the luxury we have now.

“Having been an established crew, we don’t have to work out how we race together, we know how we race together and will pull a plan together that we know works.”