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Gold medal winner: Sporting success came at a cost
5:00pm Monday 2nd December 2013 in News
MISSING out on the lives of loved ones and friends was a key reason for giving up the chance to go to Brazil for the 2016 Paralympics, Naomi Riches has told The Marlow Free Press.
In the second part of an exclusive interview, following her decision to retire this month, the para-rower said that, while she loved the sport, now was the right moment to dedicate her time to the important people in her life.
The gruelling demands of international sport, the constant need to work on improving, meant little opportunity to do anything else.
The Marlow resident said she was fed up of missing key events in her pals' lives, such as weddings , birthdays and pregnancies.
She said: "I felt that I was missing the lives of all my friends. They were all getting on with their lives and I was missing it. While I was making them proud and they were so supportive and wonderful that I wanted to get back in touch with their lives, I want to know what they're doing and get excited about their lives.
"Now I can go and share that with them and enjoy their things."
Even the lure of Rio in 2016 was not enough to keep rowing, she said. She thinks the feeling of London will be impossible to beat.
She said, as a sportswoman, she had to develop a single mindedness and focus to achieve her goals. But actually, what she enjoys more than anything is helping others.
She said she disliked the feeling as a full time athlete that the "the whole world is revolving around me" and having to turn down social invites because of training.
Even at Christmas when she visited her dad in Yorkshire she had to go to the gym so as to not lose an advantage to rival nations.
"I would do body weight circuit in the cold and wet in North Yorkshire, doing press ups and sit ups," she said.
Even days off involved recovery sessions.
Now, she plans to undertake a variety of roles. She will work with The Youth Sports Trust, Sky’s Changing Lives programme and being a water sports mentor for schools.
She may do further work with Oxfam and probably also for Guide Dogs for The Blind.
"I think it's a fantastic organisation, they do an awful lot of good work," she said.
"I'm not blind enough to need a guide dog but I know plenty of people who are."
She assured readers that one thing will not change though - she will be staying in Marlow.
"I love Marlow it's such a brilliant place to be," she said.
Next on her list is officially opening the traditional Late Night Shopping event on December 5.
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