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Laurence Whiteley MBE: Rowing Champion and Inspirational Paralympian

Laurence Whiteley MBE is a name that resonates with excellence, determination, and sporting prowess. An accomplished rower and Paralympian hailing from Great Britain, Laurence's journey to success is a testament to his unwavering commitment to his sport, overcoming adversity, and his outstanding achievements on the international stage. In this article, we will delve into the life and career of Laurence Whiteley, shedding light on his remarkable achievements, his inspiring journey, and the impact he has had on the world of para-rowing and beyond.



Early Life and Setbacks


Born on April 29, 1991, in Northallerton, England, Laurence Whiteley's life took an unexpected turn when he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer. After his recovery, wanted to get back into sport. Initially he pursued swimming and competed both nationally and internationally.

However, upon reflection, he decided his disability and swimming were not the best fit. That led him into investigating rowing and in 2011 he joined Tees RC, where he was coached by Greg Beswick.


The Road to Rowing


Overcoming numerous obstacles, Laurence exhibited an incredible work ethic, dedication, and determination that set him apart. His training regimen was grueling, demanding hours of practice and a relentless pursuit of perfection. His unwavering focus on self-improvement propelled him to become one of the most promising para-rowers in the world.


Laurence won the Home International Regatta in his first year of competition, then struck gold at both the British and European Indoor Rowing Championships in 2012 as well as the British National Championships.


International Success

Laurence Whiteley MBE Paralympian British Rowing
Laurence Whiteley MBE Paralympian

Laurence competed with distinction in the non-Paralympic class trunk-arms men’s single scull. He finally made his international debut in the mixed double scull at the 2015 World Championships alongside newcomer Lauren Rowles.


Laurence's crowning achievement came at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he and Lauren secured the gold medal. Their victory not only made them Paralympic champions but also showcased their dominance on the international stage. Laurence's dedication and prowess in the sport were evident as they rowed to victory, setting a new Paralympic record in the process.


Continued Excellence


Laurence's success did not end with the Paralympic gold medal. He went on to win multiple World Championship titles, solidifying his status as one of the most decorated para-rowers in history. His partnership with Lauren Rowles remained formidable, and their synchronicity on the water was a sight to behold.


In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the sport and his inspirational journey, Laurence was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2017. This prestigious honour acknowledged his dedication to para-rowing and his positive impact on the lives of others facing adversity. Laurence also became an Ambassador for the Bone Cancer Research Trust that same year.


Laurence Whiteley MBE Gold Medal
Laurence Whiteley MBE Gold Medal

Beyond the Sport


Laurence's influence extends beyond the world of sports. He has used and continues to use his platform to raise awareness about bone cancer, adaptive sports, and the importance of resilience. He serves as a role model for individuals with disabilities, demonstrating that with determination and hard work, one can achieve greatness regardless of the challenges they face.


Laurence's journey from a life-altering diagnosis to becoming a Paralympic gold medallist is a testament to the power of the human spirit and dedication to elite sport. His unwavering commitment to rowing, dedication to self-improvement, and ability to overcome adversity make him a true inspiration. Laurence not only excels in his sport but also serves as a beacon of hope and motivation for countless individuals around the world. His story reminds us that with the right mindset, perseverance, and support, one can achieve greatness in the face of even the most formidable challenges.


Photo credit British Rowing, Team GB


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