Come back safely! Glover's wish as partner Stanning heads out to Afghanistan
00:46 GMT, 23 December 2012
The tears flowed when Helen Glover and Heather Stanning won Team GB's first gold medal of the London Olympics.
But it will be emotional for another reason when our first champion women's rowing partnership is forced apart by a different British calling.
Duty calls: Helen Glover resumes training – without friend Heather Stanning
For Glover is certain her tears will flow again when 27-year-old Stanning sets off for what is intended to be a year's break from the rowing lake to head for Afghanistan and do her duty at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province while serving as a captain in the 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery.
Not only will Glover, 26, be fretting over the welfare of the woman who has become her close friend these past two years, she will also be concerned for the future of the partnership that was to win the London 2012 women's pairs gold.
'Heather is like a sister to me and I'll be worrying until the day she returns,' said Glover in a break during gruelling solo sessions at British rowing HQ at the Pinsent-Redgrave Lake.
Don't mess with her: Captain Heather Stanning off to Afghanistan
'I've never had a family member going away as part of the armed forces on what is potentially a dangerous mission, but this feels like it.
'I'll miss her. I'm very proud of her and I'll probably cry the last time I see her, which will be very soon. I'm sure she'll be fine, of course, but I'll still worry about her and be relieved when she's back home safe.
'I also know that while we're apart for a year, our rivals will be training as pairs. Heather and I want to defend our title at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, but with her unable to practise with me until effectively 2014, we've handed the others a year's head start.'
Striking gold made both women switch plans dramatically.
Golden girls: Glover (left) and Heather Stanning pose with their gold medals
Originally, Stanning envisaged London as both the beginning and end of her Olympic career, then it would be back to full-time Army commitments.
Glover, who had started to row only in 2008 after she joined the 'Sporting Giants' programme, could not see beyond 2012.
But after they were paired in 2010, their sights shifted after winning two silver medals in back-to-back world championships.
'Months before the Games, Heather and I talked about her returning to the Army and serving in Afghanistan because we didn't want it to become an issue in the final lead-up,' added Glover.
'She had no intention of carrying on in the sport, but as we got better and started winning medals – and then realising we stood a good chance of winning in London – she told me she was having too much fun to stop.
'I hadn't looked beyond August 1 and the Olympic final, but I realised afterwards that we were still a relatively new pair who could improve and I wanted to defend my title in Rio. So it's decided, assuming our coaches select us as a pair in 2016.'
Which makes 2013 a difficult prospect for Glover, both from a personal and professional viewpoint as she resumes her gruelling training schedule.
Double trouble: Glover (right) and Stanning on their way to victory
She added: 'Unusually for a pair, Heather and I are very close friends who have never fallen out. From a professional point of view I haven't needed to say anything to her about what being away means in terms of our partnership.
'I know she's been questioning herself about it enough. But I know how strong a person she is and how much she believes in what she's doing.
'It's not a decision she's taken lightly. Heather is confident she can spend a year with the Army, train on a rowing machine in Camp Bastion and then resume our partnership a year behind our rivals.
'That's how much she believes in what she is doing and in us as a pair.'
In the meantime, Glover has no idea how her year will pan out, with whom and in what.
Oarsome: Helen Glover and rowing partner Capt Heather Stanning, sporting her gold medal, after their success at London 2012
'It's up to [women's chief coach] Paul Thompson to decide what to do with me. I'll have the challenge of a new partner in the pairs and aiming for the 2013 world championships in South Korea. Or I might even be in a different boat.
'It will keep me fresh, but I definitely want to get back with Heather after that, whatever happens.
'When Heather and I were teamed up in 2010, we just clicked. We produced times much faster than we should have and it was all on raw speed, not technique. That's what was so exciting. We knew that with technique we could become so much better.
'To be the first British female rowers ever to win an Olympic gold, the first by Team GB in 2012, was a huge bonus. Whatever else happens in the future, that can never be taken away from us.'