Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games: Meet Northallerton’s parasport rower Laurence Whiteley who will be competing in the Paralympics

Northallerton athlete Laurence Whiteley will be looking to win another Paralympic gold medal when he competes in the PR2 double sculls on Thursday.

Laurence Whiteley. (Pic credit: Bruce Rollinson)

Youth athlete

Laurence, 29, was athletic from his childhood and competed in triathlons. He was the British Triathlon regional champion for the 13-14 age group.

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However, in 2006, when he was just 14, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, below his right knee and doctors told him he only had a 30 per cent chance of surviving the illness.

He had surgery to take out the tumour, which meant that his knee joint and part of his fibula were removed. He also had a further procedure to replace the joint and insert titanium rods into his leg.

After 11 months of chemotherapy, he underwent a year of physiotherapy and had to learn to walk again.

Patience is a virtue

Once he fully recovered, Whiteley originally competed as a swimmer and went on to become a national junior champion at 50m freestyle in the S10 category.

In 2011, he was drawn to rowing and began competing in the non-Paralympic trunk-arms men’s single scull category at the Tees Rowing Club. He has trained with the national group in Caversham, Berkshire, since the year 2014.

He spent more than two years trying to find a partner to compete in the Paralympic double sculls with and finally found Lauren Rowles, a former wheelchair racer who had recently turned to rowing, in the early months of 2015.

They won a silver medal at their first major championship together, the 2015 World Rowing Championships in the TAMix2x trunk-arms mixed double sculls.

They went on to win gold in the final of the heats at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio, where they set a world record.

Where can you watch Laurence in action?

You can watch him on Channel 4, More 4 or All 4 on August 27 at 3.10am (UK time).

The channels will be showing all of the sports during the event: wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, track cycling, goalball, wheelchair tennis, sitting volleyball, boccia, Paralympic powerlifting, para-athletics, Paralympic swimming, para taekwondo, para-badminton, paratriathlon, para-cycling, para table tennis, powerlifting, Paralympic shooting and Paralympic judo.