Rachel Morris: Paralympic champion quits cycling for rowing

Rachel Morris

Former Paralympic hand-cycling gold medallist Rachel Morris has decided to switch sports and compete as a rower.

The 34-year-old will be taking part in GB Rowing's para-rowing trials in Caversham this weekend.

"Part of it was needing a new drive and something else to achieve. I've achieved all I can in cycling," Guildford-born Morris told BBC Surrey.

"I could carry on but I wanted to be able to do something different and have a new motivation and a goal."

Morris won time trial gold at the Beijing Games in 2008 and followed that up with a bronze medal in the road race at London 2012.

The Farnham-based athlete dislocated her shoulder and suffered whiplash just weeks before a competition in London after being hit by a car while on a training ride.

She hinted at a change in sports in December 2012 and will be competing in the arms and shoulders single scull category in Berkshire.

"I started switching in January and am now on a programme," Morris said.

"They believe I can do something in the sport. I'm on the talent transfer for the first six months and then hopefully after the Worlds I can go through as a rower to Rio 2016."

GB Rowing lead coach for para-rowing, Tom Dyson, described Morris as "a consummate professional" but warned progress is not necessarily straightforward.

"She is learning quickly about our sport," Dyson said.

"Standards within the GB Rowing team are high and we intend only to take rowers to the World Championships who can perform to the right level."

Should Morris impress at the Caversham trials she could gain a place at a training camp in Italy ahead of the World Cup regatta in June and August's World Championships.

Having already competed at the Paralympics twice, she is hoping to represent Great Britain for a third time in Brazil.

"I suddenly realised how near it is and I am trying to do something totally different," she said.

"I did it in less than that [two years] going into cycling originally. Rowing is technically very precise but that's lovely as it's a new focus."