British rowing bounces back with four European Championship golds | European Championships
A glorious history placed a heavy burden on the shoulders of British rowers at the Tokyo Olympics. A meager return of a silver and a bronze was tantamount to sinking without a trace. Tough questions were asked and a refit was undertaken. Four golds in a single sunny morning at the European Championships in Munich on Saturday provided a powerful, if still incomplete, answer to the question of whether the ship was quickly righted.
For Louise Kingsley, British Rowing’s new performance director, cycling along the river bank for close inspection as the regatta echoed with her team’s victories is a promising base for rebuilding. There were enough fourth places in Japan that marginal gains could be transformative.
Triumphs in quick succession in the women’s fours and fours and the men’s fours and eights suggested an inside promotion for the former coach, pushing the sport forward.
“There’s more structure,” said Rebecca Shorten, among a four-man crew also of Heidi Long, Sam Redgrave and Rowan McKellar who extracted modest revenge by holding Ireland back, nearly 12 months after supremacy was knocked down in a narrow race for Olympic bronze. .
“We have a lot more people in place. Whereas the year before the Olympics, there were a lot of people. It’s nice to have someone with a purpose. There is a blow, a commitment. It was really good. Everyone really joined. »
A series of second bests were inflicted on the Netherlands. The women’s quadruple field of Jess Leyden, Lola Anderson, Georgina Brayshaw and Lucy Glover was brutally dominant, overtaking the Dutch by more than three seconds. Four seconds was the margin of victory for the men’s eight while the four won by two seconds, leading early and finishing strong.
These are markers set, not just for next month’s world championships in the Czech Republic, but for Paris in 2024.
“We’re a new team of young guys who haven’t been to an Olympics before,” said Sam Nunn, a four-way champion with Will Stewart, Matt Aldridge and Freddie Davidson.
“These are extremely important to know the pressure of a major championship, to perform over several days and to progress in the heats. We were able to come together as a team and embrace the collective achievement of something as a team.
There were silver medals for Britain in the men’s and women’s pairs and a bronze medal for Ben Pritchard in the PR1 men’s single scull.
A triumph is already assured on Sunday for Erin Kennedy, helmsman of the favorite British team to add a European crown in four mixed sculls PR3 to that obtained at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in May and Munich is a welcome interlude in the intensity of her treatment. “Sunday is going to be quite emotional,” said the 30-year-old. “Because it will probably be my last championships of the year. The world championships in six weeks, but I will start weekly chemotherapy by then.
There will be moments of shadow and light in the journey ahead. The oar will be parked for a while. Overcoming cancer would allow him to pursue a return via Paris. It is, she says, “a big pot of gold that I look towards”.
Normally, Kennedy added, “we work in four-year cycles. But these Games hold an even more special place for me. Because it could combine with the end of treatment, the end of this phase of my life. And it could be something that’s going to be an incredible experience in many ways, more than I ever imagined.
There was silver for the British women in the gymnastics team event with Alice Kinsella, Georgia-Mae Fenton, Ondine Achampong, Jennifer Gadirova and Jessica Gadirova scoring a total of 161.164 points to seal second place behind Italy , Germany in third.
After the Olympic bronze last summer, the feelgood factor remains intact. “I feel like we’re always trying to start over and starting a clean slate,” Gadirova said.
“We just do our job and do our best. I think it makes us more confident.