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Naomi Riches

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Paralympics gold medallist, Naomi Riches MBE, is a proud ambassador of Make a Donation.

"I have been an ambassador for Make a Donation for a number of years now. I got involved because it's such a simple and really powerful way of raising money for charity.

It is an honour to be able to support Make a Donation, as giving to charity is very important to me. I work closely with a couple of charities who are now involved with the Make a Donation site too.

The first is IN-vision. This is a charity close to my heart, as IN stands for Infantile Nystagmus, which is what I was diagnosed with as a baby. It effects one in a thousand people. This charity is looking to raise awareness of the condition and money to fund research to hopefully find a cure one day.

The other charity I'm involved with is ‘OK’ Our Kids, which focuses on child safety and wellbeing in the community. It helps to educate children and their families on everyday dangers."


About Naomi Riches

After taking up rowing in April 2004, Naomi Riches soon became hooked on the sport. She was picked for Great Britain’s adaptive rowing team because she was tall and had tried rowing briefly at college, but most of all because she is registered blind. Naomi was born with an eye condition called cone dystrophy which means she is completely colour blind, her depth perception is poor and she is extremely light sensitive.

Naomi rows in the Legs Trunk and Arms Mixed Coxed Four. In this boat class all rowers have minimal disabilities that still allow them to use a standard rowing boat with a sliding seat. Just four months after taking up the sport Naomi became World Champion in the LTA4+. Glowing from this success, she was determined to be selected for the following year’s Championships. However, in October 2004 she was hit by a car whilst out with friends in London. She suffered multiple scull fractures, several broken ribs and a fracture to her left shoulder. As a consequence of the impact she had stopped breathing and spent a week in an induced coma.

Having no choice but to defer her third year at university, Naomi was looked after by her mother, Mary, at home. Her own determination and her mother’s love and patience meant that she recovered enough to take part in the April 2005 trials and then the World Rowing Championships the same year. The GB team came home once again with the Gold Medal. This success was repeated in 2006. By 2007 the world of adaptive rowing had moved on. Rowing became a new paralympic sport which was to make its debut at the 2008 Beijing Games. The GB team went as favourites, unbeaten so far that season, believing they had learnt a valuable lesson in 2007 - not to underestimate their competitors. However, on the day of the final, they did not achieve all they set out to do and came home with a Bronze Medal.

With only four years to go to the Paralympic Games London 2012, things needed to change. A new coach and several new athletes joining the team in 2009 meant that the quality and structure of training improved. As a result the standard of the GB LTA4+ squad shot up. The 2009 World Championships saw GB back on top with a Gold Medal and a new world’s best time.

By 2010 the standard of international rowing had risen again and GB came second to the Canadians. Naomi was not in that boat as she had been beaten at final trials by 0.5 of a second. Training over the following winter was pretty bleak but Naomi was driven to keep going, having been beaten by only half a second, and she was hungry to get back into that boat for the 2011 World Championships.

Naomi knew that, when the 2011 World Championships came to an end, there was only a year to the London Games. She couldn't give up now! The 2011 Championships saw Naomi in the boat along with James Roe, Dave Smith, Pamela Relph and Lily van den Broecke as cox. They took the World Championship title, this time leaving the Canadians in second place. On 27th June this year Naomi and her four team mates were selected to compete at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. After a winter of testing and trials this Coxed Four combination still emerged as the fastest.

For more information on Paralympic/Adaptive rowing and boat classes visit www.britishrowing.org.

Congratulations to Naomi and the LTA Coxed Four for winning gold at the Paralympic Games, the only rowing gold for the host nation.  Naomi told BBC Radio 5 Live "It's incredible, absolutely incredible".  A very well deserved win for the team!

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