AN Olympian and world medal rower 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 cap 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 this weekend, and 29-year-old Mathilda is appealing for financial support to help her achieve her dream of a second Olympics, this time as a mum.

Mathilda, who began rowing 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 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.

Having had a baby, she was unable to race for GB last year, and told MPs on a Parliamentary committee she felt ‘alienated’ and ‘sidelined’ after telling sport bosses she was pregnant.

Mathilda, second from right, with her world medal boat in 2017
Mathilda, second from right, with her world medal boat in 2017 (British Rowing)

"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.

“In some sports it’s 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.”

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)

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

Updating her appeal for help with funding, Mathilda said: "I was fortunate to come second in November trials and was invited to attend a camp in Portugal.

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

"Now as the racing starts, Freddie will be joined by his dad John, 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 dream of attending my second Olympics".

"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 in the double at the 2016 World Rowing U23 Championships, followed by a bronze at the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota, Florida, as part of the quadruple scull.

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

The Europeans will help the duo warm up before the final Olympic Qualification Regatta on May 19-21 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'.