Cornwall Life talks to cornwall's Olympic golden girl Helen Glover

PUBLISHED: 12:35 26 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:57 20 February 2013

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning with their Olympic Gold medals

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning with their Olympic Gold medals

CORNWALL'S very own Helen Glover will forever be associated with one of the most memorable moments of the iconic London 2012 Olympic Games – winning Great Britain's first gold medal.

Cornwall Life talks to cornwall's Olympic golden girl Helen Glover -My golden memories of home


CORNWALLS very own Helen Glover will forever be associated with one of the most memorable moments of the iconic London 2012 Olympic Games winning Great Britains first gold medal.

Ever since Helen and her partner Heather Stanning took gold in the womens pair at Eton Dorney on 1 August, her life has not been the same as the nation has embraced her as one of the big success stories of the Games.
And yet it is here in Cornwall she feels most at home, having been born in Truro, brought up in Newlyn where the family still run the popular Jelberts ice cream business and educated at Humphry Davy School in Penzance.
Soon after her spectacular homecoming parade when thousands lined the streets to welcome back their local heroine to Newlyn and Penzance, Cornwall Life sat down with Helen to find out what makes her home county so special to her.
Ever since Helen and her partner Heather Stanning took gold in the womens pair at Eton Dorney on 1 August, her life has not been the same as the nation has embraced her as one of the big success stories of the Games.


I could never ask for more or better support from my home county. I feel pride in coming from Cornwall, but am really touched by the sense that everyone at home is proud of me

And yet it is here in Cornwall she feels most at home, having been born in Truro, brought up in Newlyn where the family still run the popular Jelberts ice cream business and educated at Humphry Davy School in Penzance.

Q. How important is being Cornish to you? Do you buy into the notion that Cornwall is different and, if so, why?
A.
I have always felt that being Cornish is part of my identity. I love the sense of community there is in Cornish towns and villages. I dont necessarily think of being Cornish as being different, but I do think that being Cornish is special, and something I am very proud of.

Q. What are your earliest memories of growing up in Cornwall?
A. Playing in the sand dunes at Gwithian with my family; playing hide and seek and having picnics.

Q. What does make Cornwall and the Cornish people so special to you?
A. The support I have received from people in Cornwall has been amazing. Cornish people really get behind each other and love to see athletes doing well on the bigger stage.

Q. How do you feel about the unique and moving welcome you got from your own people when you came back with the gold medal to your home town?
A. I was really touched by the amount of people that came to welcome me home and the kindness of everyone I met.

Q. Presumably before the Olympics it was relatively easy for you to come back to Cornwall as a bolthole from the pressures of competing in elite sporting competition? Is that still going to be the case now, do you think? Will Cornwall still provide some sanctuary from the pressures of being a world famous sportswoman?
A. Coming home is always what I look forward to. Im sure it will always be the place for me to rest and recover, especially with my parents home cooking!

Q. Have you compared your homecoming with other gold medal winning athletes who went back to their home towns? Who do you think had the best welcome?!
A. I havent really seen other homecomings, but I cant imagine a better way to come home than starting with a trip on the lifeboat with the RNLI, then celebrating with the town and finishing at my old school.

Q. Were you aware of the reaction back home in Cornwall when you won your medal?
A. No, I was not really aware of the scale and of the interest and excitement.

Q. How soon did you manage to get back to Cornwall after the Olympics and how long did you stay? Where do you consider home now?
A. I definitely consider Penzance to be home. In the month after the Olympics I have been going in between Cornwall and Reading for various media commitments.

Q. Did you consider growing up and being educated in Cornwall an advantage or a disadvantage? Do you think its just a necessary evil that elite sportsmen and women might eventually have to leave the county to progress their careers?
A. I think growing up and being educated in Cornwall helped me immeasurably. The outdoor lifestyle I had growing up, along with encouraging parents, teachers and sports clubs, gave me a great start. I think it is almost always necessary to move away in pursuit of sporting dreams simply because of the venues for the centres of excellence.

Q. What are the three places you hold most dear in Cornwall and why?
A. Newlyn, because my days ice cream shop is there and I have the happiest memories of my grandparents there. St Michaels Mount when I see it on the drive home I know I am back. Gwithian as I spent hours playing there when I was younger.

Q. If you were recommending a top three places to visit in Cornwall to a tourist, what would they be?
A. 1) The Minnack Theatre; 2) Sennen Beach; 3) St Ives.

Q. A lot of people faced with momentous events in their lives say they struggled to take it all in and remember it. Has that been the case with you? How have you managed to remember clearly such a momentous period in your life?
A. I knew I wanted to remember as much as possible, so I tried to take it all in. It has been a bit of a whirlwind so the last few weeks are a bit rolled into one.

Q. Whats the next big thing for you professionally? Are you back in training for the next event, or can you afford some down time? Will you be getting a holiday?!
A. I am going to have a break for a few weeks and then go back to training. The next competition is not until next summer so it will be back to normal training until then.

Q. Have you decided yet whether you intend to defend your title in Rio?
A. I havent decided. The opportunity would be great as long as I feel I am enjoying it and improving.

Q. When you are on your travels, do you take anything away with you to remind you of Cornwall?
A. I usually take a Cornish flag to put up in my room on training camps.

Q. Can you speak any Cornish? Do you come from a long line of Cornishmen?
A. My family have been in Cornwall for many generations. I learned a little Cornish at primary school but Ive forgotten most of it now!

Q. Has your success changed the lives of not only yourself, but your family down here in Cornwall?
A. I dont think it has changed the way we live or changed us at all, but it has provided a lot of enjoyment and excitement for the whole family.

Q. You were one of the first people to be seen on TV entering the stadium at the Closing Ceremony. What was the highlight for you of the Closing Ceremony?
A. The Closing Ceremony was great. It was a time to reflect on the fact that the Games were over and we had managed to achieve what we set out to do. Meeting all of the other athletes was brilliant and the atmosphere was very exciting.

Q. What happens to the gold medal? Where will you keep it? Has it been out of your sight since you won it?!
A. At the moment I am taking it with me quite a lot as people like to see it. At some point I will have to find somewhere safe to put it.

Q. Your dad is known for owning his own ice cream parlour, which only sells vanilla flavour? Will there be a new flavour or type of ice cream on sale in your honour!?
A. It takes a lot to persuade my dad to change anything so I dont think there will be any changes in Jelberts ice cream. I like that it doesnt change and has been the same recipe forever!

Q. What would you like your personal legacy of the Olympic success to be?
A. I would love for children in Cornwall to feel they can achieve what they want to, on and off the sports field. I also hope it gives my home town and county a sense of pride and enjoyment in being part of my Olympic success.

Q. Finally Helen, what is the message you have for all your supporters down in the county?
A. I could never ask for more or better support from my home county. I feel pride in coming from Cornwall, but am really touched by the sense that everyone at home is proud of me.



To find out more about rowing and to follow Helens progress next season visit gbrowingteam.org.uk

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