BRADFORD on Avon rower Mike Lawrence is hoping to thrust himself all the way into the international fold, just a few years after almost walking away from the sport.
The 20-year-old, who is currently studying medical science at Oxford Brookes University, was the fastest U23 competitor in the men’s single sculls event at the second of the GB rowing team’s winter assessments in Boston last month.
Lawrence is set to return to Lincolnshire for another trial on February 15, with his ultimate aim a spot in the Great Britain team for July’s U23 World Championships in Italy.
But it isn’t the first time the Wiltshire paddler has been on the cusp of representing his country.
In 2011, the then-Monkton Combe School captain was preparing for the final trials ahead of the 2011 World Junior Championships, which took place at Dorney Lake, Eton, before a freak rugby injury curtailed his chances, leading to a chronic lung problem that would plague him for more than two years.
“Not long before the last part of the trials, I got smacked in the face with a rugby ball, which I think broke my nose,” said Lawrence.
“It made it really hard to breathe for a while and I had to have an operation to clear my airways.
“Just before boat selection, I got really ill and had ended up missing out, meaning that my chance of going to the junior worlds was gone.
“I developed some kind of lung problem and the doctors have never been able to figure out what it was.
“I’ve been in and out of hospital to have all sorts of scans and I’ve been on antibiotics every few weeks pretty much ever since.
“It was only this month that I was given the all-clear. I didn’t row again until I was convinced to pick it up again when I went to uni – I really did think about giving it up.”
Having overcome his lung condition, Lawrence is now concentrating on making up for lost time and has his fingers crossed that he can thrust himself into a long-overdue Great Britain kit.
He added: “My first trial didn’t go so well (Lawrence finished 38th in the U23 standings in November’s first assessment).
“The second one was fantastic and I wasn’t far behind people that have competed at the top level.
“The selection process is a long process and there’s a long way to go, but hopefully I can end up getting myself through the rest of the trials because it would be great to get in.”
FOR MORE SPORTS NEWS, REPORTS & PICTURES SEE FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES AND FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @WTSport