Rowing has become a sport for all and caters for those who suffer with disabilities as well.

Para-rowing was first raced in Spain in 2002 and was first raced at Olympic level in Beijing in 2008, as well as being part of competition in the London Olympics in 2012.

Clubs in the North East are also helping those with disabilities, whether mental or physical.

Gateshead Community Rowing Club are one of those clubs. Formed in 2014, the club works with the ‘Row2Recovery’ – a scheme helping those who suffered injuries in the armed forces to get into rowing.

One of those people is Gateshead rower Dean Tracey. He suffered brain damage after being hit by a drunk-driver whilst he was in the army.

Tracey believes he has gained more confidence the more he has rowed.

“I was scared, incase I couldn’t do it. But once I’d done it, I realised I could do it. Like everyone else, my stamina doesn’t go too far but I’ve been working on it, building it,” he said.

Another member at the club is Carol Downworth, who lost her sight after being involved in a car accident. She said that rowing was a sport that suited her, being visually impaired.

“Its very low impact on the joints and for blind people a lot of rowing is feel so we’re actually at an advantage,” explained Downworth.

“You’re going backwards so you don’t need to see. You have a cox (swain) in the boat. If you do singles, we use a two-way radio system. So not being able to see is not a problem.”

 
 

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