Relph eyes Rio glory after her golden summer of 2012

Pamela is the only surviving member of the 2012 gold medal-winning crew, making her the most experienced athlete in the boat at the age of just 25

Pamela is the only surviving member of the 2012 gold medal-winning crew, making her the most experienced athlete in the boat at the age of just 25

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Weston Turville’s Paralympic champion Pamela Relph has her sights firmly set on next year’s Rio Paralympics when she will be aiming to defend the gold medal won in 2012.

The 25-year-old, who claimed rowing gold in London alongside Naomi Riches, David Smith, James Roe and Lily van Den Broecke, is currently in training for this year’s World Championships in September followed by the 2016 Paralympic Games.

Speaking during a recent break in her winter training schedule, the Aylesbury-born athlete said: “London 2012 was such a magical time and can never be replicated, winning in front of your home crowd and experiencing ‘the Dorney Roar’ first hand.

“But that time has been and gone and to some extent it’s now a new and more fulfilling journey – to replicate that success on foreign water.”

Relph went on to defend her World Champion crown in 2013 and again last autumn when her legs, trunks and arms mixed coxed four (LTAM4+) crew, who remain unbeaten on the world stage, won gold in Amsterdam, but the public’s eyes are now focusing on the Olympics and Paralympics in 18 months in Brazil.

“Well I have to win my place in the boat first,” added a pragmatic Relph, who has never lost her place in the GB adaptive rowing boat since being introduced to the sport by her older sister, able-bodied GB rowing team member Monica, in 2011.

“I need to hit my marks in the GB Rowing team trials that are taking place over the next few months, before the season proper starts in the spring and despite being the only member of the London 2012 crew to still be involved in the sport, I’m taking nothing for granted!

“If all does go well in the trials, we have an International Adaptive Rowing regatta in Varese (Italy) in May and then we will be back in Varese for the World Cup regatta in June.

“These two events will let me and the crew know where we stand on the world stage and the fine-tuning we need to do to put us in pole position to win the World Championships again in Aiguebelette in September.

“You can never get too far ahead of yourself in any sport and certainly not at this level, but I wouldn’t be human if my dreams were not turning to Rio. Form and health permitting, that’s what I and all my fellow athletes are aiming for.

“It really is the pinnacle of an athlete’s professional career and it’s why we put in the hard yards on the water and on the ergometer in the gym during the winter, away from the eyes of the public.

“I’d like to thank everyone in the Aylesbury district who has expressed an interest in me and what I am doing. I get plenty of messages on Twitter (@pamrelphMBE) and I’m always really grateful to people who have taken time out to contact and support me.”

The World Rowing Championships take place in Aiguebelette in France during the first week of September.

Before that, Pamela is hosting a quiz evening at Weston Turville Village Hall on Saturday, March 7, starting at 7pm, to raise funds for Arthritis Research UK, the charity for which Pam is an ambassador.

She will sign autographs, have pictures taken and present raffle prizes. There is a licensed bar and snacks will be provided. Tickets cost £5 per person and are available from Julie Relph on 07774 259120 or you can also email julie@yesconcept.com.