Britain’s current and former elite athletes have named rower Graeme Thomas as their Athlete of the Month for April after he enjoyed two strong competitions on the back of an 18-month injury lay-off.

Graeme, who has rowed at World Championships level for over a decade, first stroked the men’s quadruple sculls (M4x) to silver in the 2024 World Cup in Varese, and then a fourth-place finish at the European Championships.

These results marked a major step on his return from an 18-month back injury, which at times meant he couldn’t walk properly.

Having first suffered from Covid-19 and began to endure minor back pain, Graeme then had a prolapsed disc that required surgery. He missed the entire 2023 season and faced a tricky choice when deciding whether to target the Paris Olympics: risk his quality of life outside the boat for further competition within it.

April however showed that Graeme could work his way back up to international standards, with his heat in Varese being his first competition at that level for over a year-and-a-half.

“I think after the heat in Varase, that was quite emotional for me,” he said. “Nothing tests the body like racing. It was a huge relief to finish the race and be like: ‘I feel okay. I’m tired but everything that should feel okay feels okay.’ It was nice to get that monkey off my back and start to believe I can attack things a bit more.

“I put on my socials when I got nominated for the award that it was just a really nice opportunity to thank everyone who’s got me here,” he added. “Obviously I’ve grafted on my own and it’s been mentally challenging but you can’t do it without the guidance of top professionals.”

Graeme’s achievement topped a poll among current and former elite British athletes to decide who on the World Class Programme deserved most recognition for their successes last month.

He was shortlisted alongside Eden Rainbow-Cooper (para-athletics) and Luke Whitehouse (gymnastics).

The Athletes’ Athlete of the Month award is given to elite British sportspeople on behalf of World Class Programme athletes by the BEAA for their achievements in competition or elsewhere, such as personal development, inspiring comebacks, charity work, awareness raising and more.

It celebrates successes across elite British sport, and commends more than just competitive accomplishment – with every winner decided by the athlete community.

Huge congratulations to Graeme for winning, and to Eden and Luke for being nominated. Elite athletes past and present, to cast your vote next time, get involved via your emails or our alumni community!

Athlete news

Graeme Thomas named Athlete of the Month after injury return

It's been quite the journey back to sport for Graeme Thomas.
May 14, 2024
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