There are three important points Samuel wanted to get across in our exclusive interview: 1) Everyone trains hard. 2) “Statistically, yes there are less athletes, but in order to get to the highest level you have to work really, really hard. It’s completely professional.” And 3) Para athletes “have the mission to make the world a better place for people with disabilities in general.” As there ought to be more possibilities to engage in sport activities, and better access to education and work and other aspects of life overall. Also, para sport needs its classifications just like in judo or weightlifting because sport needs to be just. And “it’s impossible to compare someone who uses legs to someone who cannot use their legs.”
“I want people to know that Paralympians aren’t better than Olympians or the other way around. I just appreciate athletes.” Samuel herself is an athlete to appreciate. In 2015 she became world champion and was voted “Para Athlete of the Year” by World Rowing.
Many assume all rowers mostly use their arms, but that’s a myth! Ireland’s Olympic gold medallist Fintan McCarthy said as much in our exclusive interview with him. The myth happens to apply to rowers in the PR1 category, however. And “moving your boat using mostly your upper body is tough.”
But that’s not the only added difficulty. “A single scull weighs 14 kilograms if you are an able body, and weighs 24 kilograms if you are para.” Because of the different composition of the boat, with it being wider and having pontoons on each side, para athletes need to move more weight with less muscle strands. “When I train with able body rowers, we do a short sprint where they can only use their arms and they are dead after 100 metres,” Samuel says with a grin.