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Olympic gold medallist Heather Stanning backed for more rowing success after Army service

By Western Gazette - Yeovil  |  Posted: November 30, 2012

Captain Heather Stanning

Captain Heather Stanning

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Heather Stanning is being backed for more success with Helen Glover when their Olympic gold-medal winning coxless pairs partnership resumes following her spell in the forces.

Yeovil-born Stanning and Glover historically won Britain’s first gold medal of the London 2012 Olympics, dominating the coxless pairs final in front of a crowd of 26,000 at Eton Dorney.

They comfortably beat the pairs from Australia and New Zealand in 7:27.13 minutes and made further history by becoming the first female British rowers to win Olympic gold.

But soon after Stanning had taken the plaudits, she was back in Army uniform as the captain of the 32 Regiment Royal Artillery, and planning a tour of duty in Afghanistan next year.

Having been given two year’s leave to concentrate on her Olympic campaign, British rowing chiefs understand the 27-year-old’s desire to return to duty.

British rowing coach Paul Stannard says Stanning is right to want to serve her country, and is equally sure she will once again serve it with distinction when back alongside Glover.

“Heather is back with the Army,” said Stannard – speaking at the UK Coaching Awards, supported by Gillette, where he was named Performance Development Coach of the Year. “As part of her professional development she wants to go back and do her time with the forces.

“Her family are heavily involved with the forces and she is the sort of person who is very clear that she wants to pay back people when it is appropriate. The Army have been fantastic supporters of hers and she is doing the right thing by doing her bit for the army as they have funded her up to this point.

“But the planning is already in place for when she gets back and I am sure her and Helen will pick up where they left off.”

Stanning and Glover’s London 2012 success was all the more significant when it was revealed that the latter, a former PE teacher, only took up rowing four years ago.

It was Stannard who put the two together a year later, and he says he has not been surprised by their success, despite revealing they are quite the contrast away from the water.

“You could see that they would be a very good pairing,” he added. “They got on well together and were well-matched physically so it was a dream really.

“They get on absolutely brilliant together, but it is quite funny really because if you saw their hotel room they couldn’t be further from each other.

“Heather has everything squared away and meticulous because of her army background and Helen is not the tidiest person in the world.

“So the contrast there is quite noticeable but also when you go towards a competition Heather gets more and more laid back, while Helen gets a bit more excited, so the two compliment each other really well in that respect.”

Gillette’s support of the UK Coaching Awards follows its partnership with sports coach UK earlier this year as part of the Great Starts campaign, introduced to celebrate coaches and inspire the next generation by awarding coaching grants.

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