Less than two years ago Pam Relph had not even sat in a rowing boat, now she is in Team GB’s Paralympic rowing squad for the 2012 Games.
After debilitating arthritis ended Relph’s Army career, she was introduced to rowing by her sister and GB oarswoman Monica only to be selected for a chance to shine at the once-in-a-lifetime Games.
As a member of the GB Legs, Trunk and Arms Mixed Coxed Four, the Weston Turville-based athlete had her place at the Paralympics confirmed at the Henley Royal Regatta, where all the GB crews competing in London were presented to the crowds last week.
Relph’s selection comes hot on the heels of her crew’s win at the World Cup, where GB edged out rivals Germany and Canada.
“It’s been a head-spinning couple of weeks,” she said.
Relph who earlier in the week met The Queen at a Garden Party in Henley as part of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.
“There are so many people that are responsible for me being in this position – my sister Monica, the support I have received from my family but I can also think back to the staff at John Colet School and at Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College who always encouraged my sporting ambitions, modest as they were at that time.”
The heats for the rowing at the Paralympics are on August 30, so Relph faces nearly two months of intensive training before competing at Dorney Lake.
“It will be strange as we will be at a training camp in Spain during the Games, but I’m sure our coaches will have arranged for us to get TV coverage.
“But the fact we will be out of the country during the Olympics underlines just how dedicated we are to being at our peak for the Paralympics,” added Relph.
“We don’t want to be letting any of our supporters down by thinking we have ‘made it’ just by being selected for the Games.
“We now want to go on and do our best for everyone who is getting behind us.”