Women’s eight secure gold at European Championships
LEANDER athletes returned from the European Championships in Brandenburg with 15 medals, helping GB top the
LEANDER athletes returned from the European Championships in Brandenburg with 15 medals, helping GB top the medal table ahead of host nation Germany.
With strong winds providing challenging conditions over the Brandenburg course, it was the British women’s eight that provided unexpected gold, burning past the Netherlands to win by just 0.37 seconds.
Katie Greves, Polly Swann, Karen Bennett and cox Zoe de Toledo were the four Leander athletes in the new-look crew which is now set to challenge the traditional dominance of the USA and Canada.
Speaking after the win Swann said: “It was pretty brutal all the way down the course but we have put down a good marker and can really build on that towards Rio.”
The flagship men’s crew also delivered an expected gold when Leander’s Alex Gregory and his crewmates George Nash, Moe Sbihi and Constantine Louloudis won the men’s fours ahead of Belarus and France.
In the third quarter the GB boat eased out to a clear water lead and, while not totally dominant, never looked like losing out in the final 500m. Chris Bartley, Mark Aldred, Jono Clegg and Pete Chambers got off to a strong start, qualifying direct for the final of the lightweight men’s fours alongside the Swiss world champions.
The two favourites raced neck-and-neck for 1,500m before the Swiss began to gain ground, crossing the line three-quarters of a length clear with GB taking silver ahead of Germany.
“The hard work we put in during winter is starting to pay off. We still have a lot to do but that was a really good start,” said Jono Clegg.
On the form they showed in the heats and semis Al Sinclair and Stewart Innes, the all-Leander GB men’s pair, were always going to be medal contenders if they could master the tricky conditions. The Dutch pair, Roel Braas and Mitchel Steenman, were always going to be their main challengers, and so it proved, with the Netherlands taking the early lead. But just when GB were poised for a last-minute push the Hungarians burst through to take the gold with GB in silver and the Dutch third.
Speaking after the race Sinclair said: “The conditions were very tough with the crosswind. We came here to win so it was very disappointing.” Britain’s last medal came in the final race of the day when the three-times world champion GB men’s eight went head-to-head with the German Olympic gold medallists.
The Dutch took a flying start with GB in hot pursuit but the field remained tight to halfway where the Russians took over the lead. In the final stages it was Germany who came through strongly to take the gold, with Russia in silver and GB winning a photo-finish for bronze. “We wanted to win today and that didn’t happen. Those were some of the worst conditions I have ever rowed in but we still made the most of it,” explained their cox, Phelan Hill.
The next major regatta is the World Cup event in Lucerne, Switzerland, in two weeks’ time.