Adaptive duo claim first Paralympic place for GB Rowing Team

Team GB's Nick Beighton and Sam Scowen

Nick Beighton and Samantha Scowen have become the first members of the GB Rowing Team to book a place at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, after qualifying in the Trunk and Arms mixed double sculls at the World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

Beighton, a serving army Captain who lost both legs in a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan less than two years ago, first sculled in July 2010 as part of his rehabilitation at Guildford Rowing Club, and his progress since has been rapid.

‘It would be very easy to close down and withdraw into yourself, hide from the world,’ Beighton told The Times ahead of the trip to Bled.

‘I’ve had to start up again and do something different.’

The newest member of the GB Rowing Team’s Adaptive Squad has settled quickly into the life of an elite rower, picking up a bronze medal at the first World Cup of the year in Munich.

‘Sam and I have struck a good balance,’ Beighton continued. ‘We work well together, and have proved to be quite quick.’

Beighton and Scowen struggled to maintain their line in the choppy waters of Lake Bled in their early heats, but their second-place finish in Tuesday morning’s repechage secured qualification for the A Final, as well as the 2012 Games.

The British duo finished 1.1 seconds behind the victors, Australia, and comfortably clear of Poland, who finished third.

They will now contest the final on Saturday, but Beighton insisted that Paralympic qualification was the duo’s key goal in Slovenia.

‘It’s a big relief,’ the 30-year-old said. ‘It’s been our target here. I know it sounds a bit backwards, but the pressure is off us now for the final.’