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Lauren Rowles and Gregg Stevenson want to do ‘something incredible’ in Paris

Lauren Rowles will pair up with Gregg Stevenson in the PR2 mixed double sculls (Benedict Tufnell/British Rowing Handout/PA)
Lauren Rowles will pair up with Gregg Stevenson in the PR2 mixed double sculls (Benedict Tufnell/British Rowing Handout/PA)

Lauren Rowles always felt teaming up with Gregg Stevenson could produce “something special” as she targets a third Paralympic gold medal in Paris.

Rowles retained her PR2 mixed double sculls title with then rowing partner Laurence Whiteley in Tokyo, and has sights set on another successful defence alongside former Royal Engineer Commando Stevenson.

The British duo have only been rowing together since January last year, but soon claimed the European title before winning 2023 World Championship gold in Belgrade.

Rowles believes there is still more to come from her and Stevenson as they aim to top the podium in Paris.

“For us to reach this level, with Greg in only his second full season, hasn’t gone without the sacrifice and hard work you have to put in,” Rowles told the PA news agency.

“We have a huge amount of belief in ourselves that we can do something incredible in Paris by winning that third gold medal in the event.

“Sometimes there is sort of an element of surprise (with a new pairing).

“But when we started the project last year and Greg came on board, then we started rowing together, quite quickly I knew that there was something special there.

ParalympicsGB rowers Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley after winning gold in Tokyo
Lauren Rowles, right, has her eyes on another Paralympics gold medal (ParalympicsGB/imagecomms/PA)

“In the space of three or four months, we were hitting world records already.

“It just shows that there is a capacity there to push this event out further than it has ever been before. It was just a case of then putting in the hard work and time really to get to the next level.”

Rowles and Stevenson have been named as part of a 10-strong ParalympicsGB squad, across four boats, for the Paris Games.

At the age of 13, Rowles was diagnosed with the neurological condition transverse myelitis, which interrupts the messages sent from the spinal cord nerves throughout the body.

Former wheelchair athlete Rowles, who is paralysed from the waist down, first tried rowing in early 2015 before going on to become a key member of the British squad.

Stevenson, meanwhile, only returned to the GB Para-Rowing World Class Programme last year, having retired from the sport competitively to study for a master’s degree in Psychology alongside raising a young family.

The 39-year-old lost both legs in an improvised explosive device blast in Afghanistan during 2009 and had to learn to walk again with prosthetics.

Stevenson – a qualified mental health practitioner who worked in the NHS with veterans – is determined to make an impact on his first appearance at the Paralympics.

“When I joined the military, I was constantly looking for a regiment which was pushing things forward, so you had to be physically fit and constantly striving to be the best,” he said.

“It has been really refreshing for me to come back into an environment like that, where we try to constantly push and achieve special things.

“We are never settling on ‘enough is enough’.

“If we have set a world record, we are almost deconstructing it – asking where can we go better? We are constantly striving to push further.”