Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Thomas helps GB Rowing Team make history

Welshman Graeme Thomas made GB Rowing Team history in Korea when he was part of the crew that won Britain's first medal  of all-time in the men's quadruple scull event at the World Championships.

Thomas, Charles Cousins, Peter Lambert and Sam Townsend came from the pack to take bronze behind Croatia and Germany in gold and silver respectively - a reversal of the top two positions at the Olympics last year.

"On the day today we didn't have much more than that", said Cousins who earlier this year won the GB trials in the single. "I think all of us can walk away with our heads up. We weren't top but we came away with the medal".

"I can't really believe it", said Thomas, a graduate of the GB Rowing Team "Start" talent development system who has only been rowing for four years.  'It's all been a bit of a whirlwind for me, having only been rowing for four years.  I didn't expect to win a world medal this early - all credit to the guys in the boat for coping with such a newbie".

Croatia, Germany and Estonia made the early pace in the final . GB began to show at halfway and then drew alongside Estonia in the third quarter and on to the shoulders of Germany.  Momentarily it looked, in the final sprint as if GB might move up to take silver as the raze came past the grandstands but the Germans found enough to hold on for silver with GB in bronze in 5:54.78 with gold going to Croatia.

"I would be lying if I said I didn't shed a little tear as we crossed the line", said Townsend. "All thanks to coach Mark Earnshaw who has seen me in despair after major championships before and who has done so much to move sculling forward in the UK and to Paul Stannard our coach now who has done a fantastic job with us this year.

"It is quite emotional. It has been a long time coming for me and for sculling in general.  To finally have a medal around my neck to show that I am a good athlete and that we are capable means everything".

Peter Lambert said:  "I am pretty happy. I am happy with the way the race went and with the whole week. We just kept calm even though there was a bit of pressure on us.  Everyone just knew what we had to do and as a new crew it's a first medal for a British quad, I'm just happy".

"I am a little bit stunned", said Thomas.  "I am here on a World podium much earlier than I thought I would be.  Sam and Charles are guys that I have really looked up to for a long time and they have helped bring me on", said Thomas.

Chris Bartley, from Wrexham, added a second bronze medal for the Welsh rowers on Sunday when he and Adam Freeman-Pask, Jonno Clegg and Will Fletcher competed in the lightweight men's four final.

They had turned heads in winning their semi-final in style and were first off the start on Sunday.   Denmark, quickly realising the threat, moved up swiftly to take the lead at 500m gone with New Zealand coming through into second place ahead of GB.

On a mirror-like surface the GB boat slipped back to fourth by halfway behind France but still in contention for the podium.  At the head of the field the Kiwis and Danes were setting a scorching pace.  GB moved up into third with a good push.

With the British supporters in the grandstands roaring them on, the British quartet picked up the pace.  Denmark stretched their lead to take gold, New Zealand were a close second with GB keeping the rhythm set by Bartley at stroke to take bronze.

Bartley said:  "I wasn't really surprised at the pace that the New Zealanders and Danes set.
We have been playing catch up all year.  There are a few more years of experience over us in those boats.  For the three new guys, it is just amazing at their first World Championships in an Olympic boat. It's been hard work but it's been a pleasure to be with
them and work with them".

Vicky Thornley, also from Wrexham, narrowly missed a slot in the final of the women's single scull in her debut season at this event after stroking the GB women's eight last season at the Olympics.  She went onto win the B Final in 7:32.36 with a mature performance, leaving her ranked seventh in the World overall for 2013.

Overall the GB Rowing Team won  medals - three golds and five bronzes.  The golds came from the women's pair, the men's eight and the para-rowing four and with bronzes from the men's quadruple scull - Britain's first medal of all-time in that event - lightweight men's pair, double and four and the lightweight women's single scull.

Sir David Tanner, Performance Director for the GB Rowing Team said: "Overall we had 41 rowers in the Olympic class A finals and both of our Para-boats in their A Finals.

"There was an exceptional spread of medal winning countries, here in Chungju, which is great for our sport and we now have a strong platform to build towards Olympic and Paralympic qualification in two years time on the Road to Rio".


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