Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Leander duo help GB four gain European gold medal

THE new-look GB men’s four struck gold to help Britain top the medal table at the European Championships

THE new-look GB men’s four struck gold to help Britain top the medal table at the European Championships in Poland last weekend.

Leander’s Tom Ransley and Al Sinclair teamed up with Nathaniel Reilly O’Donnell from University of London and Scott Durant from Oxford Brookes to continue their country’s dominance of this event. They led from start to finish, with Greece in silver and Belarus taking bronze.

Speaking after the win Ransley said: “We have a great tradition in this boat class as a nation so it’s great to take up that mantle and win here.”

Leander’s third gold medallist was Matt Langridge, who teamed up with Molesey’s James Foad to claim the title in men’s pairs. Last year the duo finished second to New Zealand at the World Championships but this time it was France who made the going tough in the closing stages.

“We made that a bit harder than it should have been” said Langridge of the late French challenge.

Fourteen Leander athletes returned with medals, as part of the total GB team tally of six gold, two silver and two bronze. Significantly four of the gold medals came in Olympic-class events. There was a silver medal for the promising lightweight men’s double scull combination in which Leander athletes Richard Chambers and Will Fletcher teamed up to take second place to the outstanding 2014 crew from France, now twice European champions.

“I’m very, very happy with how it’s gone — it’s been a while since I had a medal,” said Fletcher.

The world champion GB men’s eight, with six Leander men on board, also had to be content with silver behind their arch-rivals Germany, but they held off Russia in the last stages of the race. After a disappointing heat the GB crew had to qualify through the repechages but Russia, now coached by Marlow’s Mike Spracklen, had qualified direct for the final.

In the men’s quad Leander’s Jack Beaumont was a late sub for the injured Charles Cousins, in the crew that was otherwise unchanged from last year’s world championships. Together with Sam Townsend of Reading University and Graeme Thomas of Agecroft, with Leander’s Pete Lambert at stroke, the quad battled grimly to take the bronze medal.

Speaking afterwards Thomas said: “Massive credit to Jack, he has stepped in very professionally. He is only 21 and I would say to all the young rowers out there watching, look at the determination Jack has got.”

The second bronze medal for GB came in the women’s double scull, where Olympic champion Katherine Grain-ger, of St Andrew, formed a new partnership with Vicky Thornley of Leander.

For Grainger the event marked her return to racing after a two-year gap, but the experienced Polish crew took gold on their home water ahead of last year’s world champions from Lithuania.

Grainger, speaking after the race said: “It’s alright — it’s a start. We are improving, that’s the word I’d use.” Thornley added: “It was good to get on the podium but we have a long way to go.”

The next international event on the calendar is the World Cup regatta, to be staged on Lake Varese, Italy, in two weeks’ time.

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