Cancer survivor Erin Kennedy crowned a comeback to savour with World Rowing Championship gold in Belgrade.
The coxswain from Plymouth was forced to watch last year’s competition from home while undergoing chemotherapy following her breast cancer diagnosis.
Having been given the all clear earlier this year, Kennedy guided Great Britain’s PR3 mixed coxed four of fellow Devonian Ed Fuller, Frankie Allen, Giedre Rakauskaite and Morgan Fice-Noyes to a poignant victory in Saturday’s final as the crew completed an unbeaten season in style.
“It feels amazing to unite all the titles again,” Kennedy said.
“This time last year, I was sat at home feeling pretty sorry for myself but I was so proud of the team.
“I have been dreaming of this day for a really long time so to be back on the middle of the podium with the best team in the world, I couldn’t be happier.
“I have been chasing this. Being an athlete, you have ideas of how you compartmentalise and manage yourself and I have applied that hugely in my cancer world.
“I’m so grateful and I want to thank the National Lottery, who continued funding me throughout my treatment, British Rowing, my coaches and my team-mates.
“I’ve felt like I had the biggest team behind me and it has been pretty incredible.”
Gold capped a superb week in Serbia for Kennedy and her crew, who had already secured Great Britain a Paralympic quota place for Paris next summer.
They laid down a marker 12 months out by coming home just under three seconds clear of the USA, with Germany completing the podium.
Kennedy’s influence was hailed as ‘inspirational’ by Allen while Fuller, who hails from Exeter, was delighted to retain his crown having been part of the crew to win gold in 2022.
“To be able to come back and do it again with a different crew is very special,” he said.
“It wasn’t easy out there, the headwind was very strong, so it made hard work for us. But it’s about getting your bows across the line first and we did that today.”