This weekend, Naomi Riches will attempt to set a new world record as the fastest woman to row the length of the River Thames solo.
Six-time world champion rower, Naomi Riches, will be attempting to row 165 miles non-stop this weekend from Lechlade to Gravesend Royal Pier.
She aims to complete the feat in less than 50 hours to set a new world record as the fastest woman to row the length of the River Thames solo.
Riches, who is registered blind, will also be raising money for the charity, IN-vision, which supports those with nystagmus.
This is one of the eye conditions which the rower has.
Riches is being supported in her world record attempt – called The Great Thames Row – by many noteworthy ambassadors.
These include Sir Steve Redgrave, British wheelchair racer Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, former England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio and retired Olympic runner Derek Redmond.
Commenting on Riches’ challenge, Sir Steve, who has won five Olympic gold medals for rowing, said: “I think that she will complete it. Will it be easy? No, it will be extremely tough.”
Riches has been a patron of IN-vision since her gold medal triumph. She said she was bullied at school for being different, and was known as “the blind girl”.
“More than anything else in my life I wanted to be known as Naomi Riches and not be defined by my disability. I want to be known for what I am able to do, not what I cannot do,” explained the London-born rower.
As a child, Riches was diagnosed with nystagmus which makes focussing difficult, particularly on moving objects as her eyes are involuntarily and constantly moving.
Nystagmus affects about one in 1,000 people and is the most common form of visual impairment in children.
For Riches, the Great Thames Row is not just about that personal sense of achievement, it is about encouraging people to celebrate ability over disability.
The current record holder for the fastest solo row along the length of the River Thames is Malcolm Knight.
He smashed the previous record by 10 hours, completing the row between 7-9 April 2013.
Knight rowed from Lechlade to Gravesend Royal Pier in 43 hours, 40 minutes and 56 seconds.
The rower, who is the current keeper of the Queen’s row barge, The Gloriana, is backing Riches in her attempt.
“It’s wonderful for someone to actually have a go at the record. Can somebody actually beat it? I hope she does!” he said.