Whatever happens next year Team GB hopeful Caragh McMurtry will always be able to say - rowing saved me.

McMurtry was in pole position to make the initial team for Tokyo 2020 before COVID-induced postponement forced her to hit the reset button for 2021.

Through all the upheaval and uncertainty of recent months, the Southampton-born athlete has been drawing on inner reserves of resilience built by an unconventional sporting journey.

She discovered rowing at Bitterne Park Secondary School through British Rowing’s Project Oarsome and credits the sport with hauling her back on course in life.

“At school, occasionally I'd go off with the wrong crowd,” explained the 29-year-old.

“I’d hang around on street corners drinking with friends and I can’t think there were many options for me in life at that point in time.

“Rowing really pulled me back, made me feel I was important and could do something good. Project Oarsome totally saved me and I don’t know where I’d be without it.

“It took me from a bad place to a really good place.

“I never dreamed of being an Olympian, I didn’t even think I was sporty growing up. The enjoyment of rowing is the foundation of me and my success.

“It really has snowballed and I’ve shown myself what I’m capable of at each step in the way. The Olympics is just the next step for me.”

McMurtry won a European silver medal in the women’s eight in 2014 but illness kept her out of the senior reckoning until 2017, since which she has rowed in the eight and the four.

Her lockdown lifelines were regular calls with British team-mates and the presence of husband Mikey Mottram - himself an elite athlete as part of UCI trade cycling team Vitus Pro Cycling.

McMurtry says Mikey has been the perfect sounding board for her training struggles, helping buoy her for another big push towards the Games.

“It’s such a helpful thing to have someone who really understands the trials and tribulations of being an elite athlete,” she said.

“Other people might try to get it, but they don't realise why you don't stop when it gets really hard! That's something Mikey understands.

“When it gets really tough, he's definitely there for me and he helps me to work things out. He understands there's no quitting. He's super helpful.”

The pair are DIY fiends and are currently selling their house in Cholsey, Berkshire with Purplebricks in search of another conversion project to tide them over, making it a busy year ahead on all fronts.

“We’re looking for a slightly bigger house in the area, or at least within commuting distance of our training base at Caversham” she said.

“We’d like another doer-upper to get stuck into, we like doing the work ourselves. I’m prepared to live in a not so nice looking house, do it up and make some money. I quite enjoy that.”

Purplebricks is the UK’s leading estate agent and is open for business for in-home or virtual appointments. As the Official Estate Agent of Team GB, they are encouraging the nation to get behind the national squad and show the value of home support in the build-up to Tokyo. For more information visit www.purplebricks.co.uk.