Published: 08/01/2013 08:00

Laura dreaming of Rio after GB call-up

Written byRex Page

BURTON rower Laura Wheeler is dreaming of going for gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Laura Wheeler
Laura Wheeler

The 27-year-old is currently in Avis, Portugal, after being selected to join the Great Britain senior women’s team on a training camp.

The pharmacy assistant from Winshill said: “I’m thrilled to have got this far and it would be absolutely brilliant to make it all the way to Rio.”

Wheeler has already come through rigorous trials to keep alive her hopes of making the main squad.

She said: “I’m really excited because only three athletes not currently part of the squad have been invited to the training camp.

“It doesn’t mean I’m actually part of the squad, but hopefully that will be confirmed in February if all goes well.”

Wheeler has made great strides after taking up the sport almost by chance as a 16-year-old.

The former Abbot Beyne School student took part in a Dragon boat race at the town’s regatta — and was hooked.

She said: “I was doing my Duke of Edinburgh award at the time and needed a sport.

“I would actually have gone for Dragon boat racing but the nearest club was in Nottingham.

“My mum suggested I try my luck at a local club.

“I went along in January - cold, wet and miserable - which wasn’t the best time to be out on the river but I loved it from the word go.”

Wheeler has rowed for both Burton clubs, Leander and Trent, but is now with Nottingham Rowing Club.

She said: “Nottingham have a high performance squad - one of only eight in the country - which was set up to develop potential to the national squad.

“The training is a greater intensity and has obviously played a big part in helping me to the standard I’ve achieved so far.”

Wheeler took part in trials on a rowing mahcine in Boston in November when adverse weather conditions prevented action on the water.

The Burton athlete put in a strong performance over 2000m, recording a personal best time of 6 mins 48.05 secs to finish in third place.

As a result, she was invited by selectors to race over 4000m at the GB training base at Caversham in Berkshire.

Here she had to race against current Olympians and came home in a respectable 15th place to secure her place on the training camp.

Wheeler has previously enjoyed international success, first picking up two junior European gold medals in Belgium as an 18-year-old.

Last year she represented England in the Home International Regatta in Cardiff and came home with a gold and two silver medals.

She also won the Redgrave Trophy in a women’s elite pair with Imperial College’s Lucinda Gooderham at Henley Royal Regatta in 2011.

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