A WORLD medal rower and Olympian who is now a mum is targeting a place at the Paris Games after winning through the GB trials.

St Weonards oarswoman Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne has been given the chance to qualify the double scull for the Olympics at the final qualifying regatta next month alongside Wales oarswoman Becky Wilde.

Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne racing for GB
Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne racing for GB (British Rowing)

They are starting their campaign with the European Championships in Hungary next week, and 29-year-old Mathilda is appealing for financial support to help her achieve her dream of a second Olympics, this time as a mother.

Mathilda, who began rowing on the Wye at Hereford as a young teenager and has trained at Monmouth RC and Monmouth School when visiting her family home, gave birth to son Freddie in summer 2022 after winning the B final at the Tokyo Games in the GB women's quadruple scull in 2021, alongside sister Charlotte.

While Charlotte has now become a professional cyclist, former World-U23 champion and senior bronze medallist Mathilda has pursued her ambition to row at a second Olympics, despite obstacles in her way.

Mathilda far side racing the Australian national sculler at Henley Royal Regatta last year
Mathilda far side racing the Australian national sculler at Henley Royal Regatta last year (Oarstruck)

Having had a baby, she was unable to resume racing for GB last year, and told MPs on a Parliamentary committee at the time she felt ‘alienated’ and ‘sidelined’ from the moment she told sports bosses she was pregnant.

"It’s very easy to feel alienated and feel pushed to the side a little bit, which is my experience with it at the moment,” she told the Women’s and Equalities Committee during a discussion on sexism and health inequality in sport.

“I know in some sports it is possible to return – cycling they’re world champions in seven months – but in rowing, I’m not allowed to race this summer and there’s no security for me or my funding.”

Instead, she raced for Henley-based club Upper Thames, winning the elite women's singles event at London's top regatta, the Metropolitan on the 2012 Olympic lake, before taking bronze at the Amsterdam Beker Regatta behind New Zealand Olympic singles champion Emma Twigg and Dutch Tokyo bronze medallist Roos De Jong.

Posting an update on an appeal for help with funding, Mathilda said: "I was fortunate to come second in November trials and was therefore invited to attend a camp in Portugal.

"January and February saw me again travel to Portugal with Freddie and my mum.

"It may seem all very exciting with all the travelling, but not being able to spend much time as a family so far in 2024 has been tough.

"However, from now on as the racing starts, Freddie will be joined by his dad John on these trips, and I can’t wait to be racing with them there to watch again."

Mathilda says she is fired by the dream of "giving my son a huge hug having achieved a lifetime dream of attending my second Olympic Games".

"Thank you for all your continued support, and I can’t wait to share with you the results this summer," she added.

The Reading University chemistry graduate won a gold medal in the double scull at the 2016 World Rowing U23 Championships, followed by a bronze medal at the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota, Florida, as part of the GB quadruple scull.

Other successes include winning the Wingfield Sculls twice - the Amateur Championship of the Thames - in 2015 and 2020, plus a European silver medal in the quadruple sculls in Varese, Italy in 2021.

The Europeans next week will help the duo warm up before the final Olympic Qualification Regatta on May 19-21 at Lucerne in Switzerland.

To help her fulfill her dream, you can donate at Mathilda's GoFundMe appeal 'My goal of going to Paris 2024 as a full-time mum'.