Rowing isn't just for the able bodied. Marlow RC hosted a regatta for blind and wounded servicemen in 1919 and ever since there have been rowers with disabilities.
In recent years para-rowing has become a formalised and well supported system. At the Paralympics rowing is split into three categories:
- SA (Shoulders and Arms) - for those with spinal injuries. Competitors are strapped into a seat in the boat and all the movement comes from the arms and some shoulder movement.
- TA (Trunk and Arms) - for those with lower limb injuries/amputations. There is no leg bend and the stroke comes from rocking forward, similar to pulling in a fixed seat boat.
- LTA (Legs, Trunk and Arms) - for those with virtually full movement but some other disability, e.g. arthritis or blindness.
During training para-rowers can either train with our dedicated group or with our main squads: MRC's Naomi Riches rowed with our women's squads but also in the GB LTA boat which won bronze in the Beijing Paralympics in 2008 and Gold at London 2012 as well as several World Championships (pictured left, with two members of the womens squad).
Marlow RC is in a particularly fortunate position because we have a new (2014) boathouse built to be fully disability accessible with step free access to the river, a lift and disabled changing rooms. MRC has also been selected as a Host Club in British Rowing's new Paralympic development scheme. The scheme is the para-rowing element of the Elite Talent Development Pathway (ETDP) which takes promising individuals from early steps into the GB paralympic team.
We also have a coach, Ella, who is funded by British Rowing, and good contacts with Row2Recovery, the charity which helps wounded servicemen get into rowing. Our first ex-serviceman, Jordan Beecher (pictured) competed at the Invictus Games in 2014 and won three gold medals there.
The para-rowing programme at MRC is a key development objective for us, so if you are disabled, or know someone who is who might want to try rowing, whether competitively, for pleasure or for rehabilitation, please get in touch with Ella Willott.