World champion rower Gregg Stevenson thanks Lancashire Trust’s Specialist Mobility Rehabilitation Centre after qualifying for Paris Paralympics
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The 39-year-old former Royal Engineer from Foulridge, who qualified for the 2024 Paris Paralympics in the process, admits he owes part of his medal to the centre, which provides specialist wheelchair, prosthetic limb and orthotic rehabilitation services throughout Lancashire and South Lakeland.
Gregg’s road to Paris started when he was referred to the centre, where he was fitted with the world’s most advanced bionic high-tech Genium X3 knee, after losing both his legs to an IED blast while on patrol in Helmand Province in 2009.
He went on to work at the centre as the lead physical training instructor and mental health practitioner, and then NHS Op Courage Veterans High Intensity Service North, and he still makes regular trips to the centre for support with his prosthetics.
The veteran, from Foulridge, will be working closely with SMRC in the build-up to the Games, with the centre helping with his training, including the creation of a cycling leg, and he said: “I can’t thank the centre enough. Keith (Watling), one of the technicians, made my first rowing leg here, so I owe him part of my medal, because if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
“Everyone has wanted a look at my medal, and the support from the centre enables me to do what I do - if it wasn’t for the work I did in the gym here right back when I wasn’t as fit as I am, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
“It’s been a 14-year journey to get here. When you do a sport, you’re relying on that leg, and you need something that’s not going to let you down, and the centre have been brilliant.”
Having taken up rowing in 2012, Gregg was part of the trials process for the Invictus Games, but decided to row with the GB Paralympic programme instead as he couldn’t juggle both, and has been with GB since December 2018, training in Caversham near Reading.
Gregg has enjoyed a remarkable year in the boat alongside double Paralympic champion Lauren Rowles, winning the European title in May in Slovenia in a world record time, before winning a tight race in Serbia, fighting off the Chinese crew in the final strokes.
After achieving his goal of qualifying for Paris 2024, he said: “I couldn’t have dreamt it, when I got the call to get back into rowing. It’s a bit of a smash and grab for me - I’m 40 next year, so this is very likely my last chance.
“To say I’d be a world champion, set a couple of world records, and qualify for the Paralympics, it’s a very proud moment. The penny dropped when they were playing the National Anthem in Belgrade, and the flag was raised.
“At the start of the season, our ambition was to qualify for the Paralympics, and I was thrown in the deep end for the European Championships, and we won that, in a world record time. Now we’re going to Paris seeded number one, what a season!”