From Talent ID Pathway to Paralympic Champion

Laurence Whiteley, Paralympic Gold Medalist in the Mixed Trunk Arms Double Scull, shares his journey.


The 2016 Paralympic Gold Medallist has come a long way in five years. First taking up the sport in 2011, following a successful international swimming career, Laurence progressed quickly through the British Rowing Talent ID Pathway, winning several British and European events in the Trunk Arms Single Scull category.

In 2015 he made his international debut with newcomer Lauren Rowles in the Trunk Arms Mixed Double Scull (TAMix2x) at the World Championships in Aiguebelette, scooping a silver medal and making history as the first GB crew to qualify for Rio 2016.

In 2012, Laurence reflected on his experience of the transition to rowing and his subsequent success through the British Rowing Talent ID Pathway:

“I started rowing in the beginning of 2011, after wanting a change from disability swimming.

After going down a few times to Tees Rowing Club and meeting both the coach, Greg Beswick, and Caroline Mcdonald,  the only adaptive Rower at the time, I found the atmosphere to be very friendly and welcoming and so began going out on the water.

“Since then I have won the British and European Indoor Rowing Championships (2012), the British National Championships (2012), and the Home International Regatta (2011) while also being selected for GB development.

I’ve always been interested in water sports, so rowing appealed to me in that respect. Being a disabled person, I enjoy the fact that my leg doesn’t hinder my ability to row at a high level, which it still does when I swim competitively. I also enjoy being out on the water with my other adaptive squad mates, there’s always plenty of chatter during our UT2 10k rows and good banter. Long story short; it’s a great sport to be a part of and I’m glad I decided to give it a try when I did.”

Para-Rowing Talent ID pathway

Do you have what it takes to be the next Paralympic rower?

The biggest multi-sport talent identification campaign, Discover Your Gold has launched, a campaign aimed at targeting promising athletes to be fast-tracked into the exciting world of high performance sport. Discover Your ParaPotential is one of the five strands of the campaign and targets those people with a physical impairment. No rowing experience is necessary, so don’t hesitate to sign up and get involved at