Sheffield’s Grace Clough only took up rowing in late 2013 but is already a double World Champion and is now heading to her first Paralympic Games.
Before attending a SportsFest event at the English Institute of Sport (EIS) in Sheffield to promote disability sports, the former High Storrs student had no rowing experience.
But having helped the LTA mixed coxed four to World Championship gold in both 2014 and 2015, Grace will make her Paralympic Games debut at Rio 2016 – and look to continue her winning record.
After hearing confirmation of her place in the GB team for Rio, 25-year-old Grace said: “It’s absolutely amazing, it’s still sinking in day by day.”
Her parents Hugh and Susan and brother Nick have already booked their tickets to the Games and Grace added: “They are so proud, and my gran is doing a scrapbook!”
Grace has been selected in the LTA mixed coxed four along with Pamela Relph, Dan Brown, James Fox and cox Oliver James for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. A combination of illness and injury means it will be their first competitive appearance of the year.
The team fly out to Rio on September 1 and compete on September 9, 10 and 11.
The 2015 season saw Grace and her team-mates again prove they are the boat to beat. During an outstanding World Cup in Varese, the four set world-best times on consecutive days as they won gold in emphatic style.
The World Championships in Aiguebelette were much tighter but the crew dug deep to see off a strong challenge from the United States and retain their title.
Grace began training on the High Performance Programme at Nottingham Rowing Club in 2013 and quickly impressed, earning an invite to train full-time with the GB para-rowing squad at Caversham in January 2014.
Her sporting interests are not confined to rowing though, having excelled in able bodied sports.
She captained Yorkshire at basketball and also played for Sheffideld Hatters. And she loved playing football, being a former Socrates player, but a shoulder injury at birth meant she could only reach a certain level.
Grace graduated from the University of Leeds with a first in Sociology and is going on to do a Masters Degree at Oxford University.
She is relishing a return to Rio, having visited last year with the rest of the team on a ‘recce.’
“It’s an amazing city and there will be a fantastic atmosphere. I can’t wait.”
Is she confident as she looks towards the games? “It’s 48 days to go to the competition and we’re training really hard. Having not competed together this year we’re going in as an unknown force. But we’re pushing on and hope we can do well.”
* GB Rowing have a Para-Rowing talent ID programme. The programme identifies, trains and develops people with a disability with the aim of becoming world class Para-Rowers. They are supported by world-class coaches, facilities and support staff, training side-by-side with the GBRT Olympic squad. No prior rowing experience is required, just a willingness to give it a go.Find out more at
* They also have a Rowability programme for people with a disability who are looking to start rowing but not at a high performance level. Get in touch with us to find out more: firstname.lastname@example.org.