Wednesday, 20 March 2019

GB men’s eight narrowly miss out on silver medal

GB men’s eight narrowly miss out on silver medal

LEANDER athletes returned from the World Championships in Bulgaria with 11 individual medals but with one gold and three bronze this was a meagre tally for the GB team, marking another downturn after last year’s disappointing results.

Four years ago, midway through the previous Olympic cycle, it was an entirely different story. At the world championships in Amsterdam the GB team notched up four golds, the same number of silvers and a couple of bronze. Several of the crews were almost guaranteed a gold medal, such as the men’s eight, the men’s four and Heather Stanning and Helen Glover in the pair. These days there is no such ‘gimme’.

Britain’s only gold in Bulgaria came, yet again, from the para mixed coxed four, coxed this year by Leander’s Erin Wysocki-Jones. The crew, which included Henley Rowing Club’s Daniel Brown, extended GB’s dominance in this event to an eight-year winning streak, despite the USA pushing them right to the line.

The all-Leander men’s four followed up their European Championships silver with bronze in Plovdiv, putting in a strong second half of the race to overhaul European champions Romania and the Netherlands.

Tom Ford, Jacob Dawson, Adam Neill and James Johnston pushed Italy hard down the 2,000m track as Australia set the unrelenting pace. Italy eventually pushed on to secure silver, with GB half a length behind.

Speaking after the third place finish, Neill said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic to come away with a medal – it’s my first senior World Championships medal, which is something I’ve been trying to do since I was about 13. It’s years and years of hard work.”

The final race of the regatta saw the GB men’s eight, with six Leander athletes on board, secure bronze. As expected the Germans dominated the race, just as they have done throughout the season, and held on to the lead as GB and Australia battled it out for silver and bronze. GB pushed hard to hold off the sprinting Australians but were pipped to silver on the line by 0.03 seconds.

If the medal count was disappointing there was heartbreak for several Leander athletes finishing in fourth position, with Angus Groom and Jack Beaumont missing a medal by just half a length in the men’s double sculls.

An exceptional performance by Harry Leask put him right up among the world’s elite athletes in single sculls when he qualified for the final and finished fourth behind Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic.

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