Marlow RC had the privilege of hosting Kenyan Pararower for the months of August through September on the initiation of the Pararowing Foundation (PRF). Asiya Mohammed competed in the Tokyo 2021 Paralympics and had aspirations of improving her results in the upcoming Paris Games.
The PRF is “is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting inclusivity in rowing by expanding global opportunities and accessibility for individuals with disabilities.” Among their various global initiatives, they help people to attend an annual para-training camp in Avis, Portugal (that Sophie Brown also attended this year) After the 2023 camp, PRF Founder Marilyn Koblan recommended that Asiya find a place with more pararowing resources to support her training for a more extended period. Marilyn called me up and we sorted out an extended training camp for Asiya at Marlow RC.
Asiya joined the Marlow adaptive/pararowing squad training with the team, using the accessible facilities (like the gym) and getting in extra water sessions whenever one of the volunteer coaches could arrange to take her out. Her training must have had some impact as she set two Concept 2 World Records – 60 minute and 30 minute – during her stay.
In an instance of pure serendipity, Asiya booked an AirBnB for when she first arrived and when the host asked about her visit, she said that she was coming for pararowing training. When the host replied asking about her classification, she wondered who is this person who knows so much about rowing. It turned out to be none other than former GB Rower and British Rowing Board Member Jack Beaumont. So she found herself in very rowing friendly hands from her very arrival.
Asiya is now in Tunisia for the WR Rowing African Olympic & Paralympic Qualification Regatta which she won in style (Congrats Asiya!) and so has qualified for the Paris 2024 Paralympics (Allez Asiya!). But before she departed, she had the chance to share a few reflections on her time rowing in Britain:
- 1. How did you get into rowing?
I got into rowing in 2018. Had just arrived from a tennis tournament when I received a call from one of the para rowing pioneers in Kenya. She said they wanted someone whose suit my disability and if I could just come and try and see. And so I did.
- 2. What is your impairment?
I am a double amputee, under Physical impairment.
- 3. What do you find hardest in rowing?
The only thing I found hardest in rowing so far is keeping on straight line.
- 4. What do you find comes easily to you in rowing?
- Taking long strokes and feathering
- 5. What thing did you learn about rowing that you think has had the biggest impact on your rowing?
Squaring early – it gives me room to keep the blades inside the water for a long time.
- 6. If you could take any piece of equipment (no matter how big or expensive) back to Kenya with you what would it be?
I would take the BOAT – because back home, what we lack is equipment.
- 7. What surprised you most about rowing in England?
The way they’ve incorporated para and adaptive rowing. Giving opportunities to all types of impairments to experience rowing is truly fascinating.
- 8. What was the most “English” (ie. the most like stereotypical English) things you have seen or experienced?
BLOODY HELL – can be used in any sentence regardless if it’s positive or negative
- 9. What has been your favourite food?
Creamy pasta with chicken
- 10. What are your rowing aspirations for the year ahead?
Being among medal contenders in Paris