Two women who became the first British female rowers to win an Olympic title were awarded MBEs yesterday as their coach praised their achievements.
Heather Stanning and Helen Glover made history when they triumphed in the coxless pairs, winning Team GB’s first gold medal of London 2012.
They were recognised by the Queen at a Windsor Castle investiture ceremony, as was their trainer, Robin Williams, who also received an MBE.
Stanning, who was educated at Gordonstoun School in Moray and whose parents live in Lossiemouth, said the military was now her focus but she wanted to compete in 2016 at the Rio Games in Brazil. She is a serving army captain in the Royal Artillery.
She said: “I went back to work and had to decide what was my focus, so this year I’m focusing on this career – if I want to keep this career.
“At the same time my long-term goal is Rio and defending my title with Helen. It’s just finding that happy balance.”
Glover, speaking after the ceremony, said of her MBE: “You never take up a sport because of those accolades, which aren’t Olympic medals and world championship medals, and so this is something we never, ever considered getting.”
The rower, who five years ago was working as a PE teacher, added: “What it has done is highlight how much the nation enjoyed the Games and how big it was for the nation, because for us getting our gold was a really personal thing.”
Sir David Tanner, British Rowing’s performance director, who introduced the talent-spotting Start programme that picked out Glover, was knighted for his efforts in guiding his sport to nine medals at London 2012, four of them gold.
The sportswomen dominated their race at Eton Dorney from start to finish and came home metres ahead of rivals Australia and New Zealand.
It was the start of Team GB’s medal rush and by the end of the Games the nation topped the rowing medals table.
Speaking about his rowers, Williams said: “Obviously as their coach I know the scale of their achievement, I think it just capped off what’s been a brilliant three or four years for them.
“I think they’re two of the best possible ambassadors for sport, for women, young people and for rowing you could imagine.”
Rowing performance boss Sir David Tanner helped Britain win three rowing medals at the 2000 Games in Sydney, four at Athens 2004, and at Beijing 2008 his team topped the rowing medal table with six medals. At home for London 2012 Britain increased this tally to nine medals.