Aylesbury Paralympic star Pamela Relph might be the sole survivor from Britain’s memorable 2012 gold medal winning mixed coxed four but former teammate David Smith insists she is the only ingredient the boat needs to strike gold again in Rio.
It was a little over a year ago that Weston Turville rower Relph and Smith, along with James Roe, Naomi Riches and cox Lily van den Broecke stormed to gold ahead of Germany and Ukraine at the London 2012 Paralympics.
The same boat then won gold at this year’s World Championships in South Korea back in August but this time Relph and Riches were joined by James Fox, Oliver Hester and cox Oliver James.
And since topping the podium once again, defending their title from 2011, Riches has retired leaving Relph ploughing a very lonely furrow as Team GB look to defend their title at the Rio 2016 Paralympics in less than three years time.
While this might appear a daunting prospect, Smith – who was forced to quit rowing due to health problems following a tumour on his spine – believes that if anyone can ensure the team remain a success it is Relph.
“My rowing chapter is now one that is closed as unfortunately due to health reasons I have had to stop, it was just putting a lot of strain on my body off the back of my tumour,” said Smith.
“The only remaining member of the boat from London is Pam. Pam is still going strong, though.
“She raced at the Nationals for Leander and she did OK there. I would be surprised if there were any boats that challenge that four in the next three years despite all the changes purely down to her.
“She never ceases to amaze me and doesn’t seem like she will be slowing down any time soon. With her talent, not to mention her experience and will to win, pushing that boat forward too it will be a success I am sure of it.
“Yes I would have loved to go on and retain the title in Rio but to win in London was the most amazing feeling and I am happy to leave rowing if that is my last ever memory in the sport.”
+ Through GSTMC, the British Olympic Foundation, in conjunction with the British Paralympic Association is using the spirit of the London Games to re-inspire young people across the UK. The project is being supported by a £2.5m grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Keeping the Spirit of 2012 Alive campaign