Team GB rowers land first Olympic medal in women’s eight
Rio 2016

Team GB rowers land first Olympic medal in women’s eight

13 August 2016 / 15:10

Team GB’s rowers continued to break new ground in Rio as the women’s eight grabbed their first Olympic medal on the final day of action at the Lagoa Stadium.

The British crew came into the Games as 2016 European champions, and underlined their medal intentions by beating world silver and bronze medallists New Zealand and Canada to win their heat on Monday.

And the team proved it was no fluke in the final, coming through from last at the 1000m half-way stage to claim silver in 6:03.98 minutes as the Americans grabbed a third straight Olympic gold in 6:01.49.

The British crew consisted of Katie Greves, Mel Wilson, Fran Houghton, Polly Swann, Jessica Eddie, Olivia Carnegie-Brown, Karen Bennett, Zoe Lee and cox Zoe De Toledo.

Only five-time Olympian Houghton had reached the Olympic podium before, claiming quad scull silvers at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

But there is plenty of experience dotted across the team, with Greves and Eddie competing at their third Games, and Swann a 2014 world gold medallist alongside Helen Glover in the women’s pair.

And Houghton insisted she never lost belief the British eight would pull their way back into the medal positions.

“I’m so proud of the girls,” said 35-year old from Henley-on-Thames. “We just really trusted the way we decided to row and we really trusted the people around us and believed in ourselves and that was it. The rest was inevitable.

“I did what I wanted to do and rowed the best I could and I know all the girls did the same. I’m just really proud of them.

“We’re really strong and if I was in any of those other crews I would have given it a go like that. We’d prepared for everything and we knew what we were going to deliver and we just kept delivering with every stroke.”
Rowing women eight huddle after silver

Wilson made her Olympic debut alongside Houghton in the quad scull four years ago, reaching the final before finishing sixth.

And while the 31-year old from London admitted there had been a level of expectation on the history-making crew, she insisted she had never felt calmer at the start of a race.

"I felt really relaxed on the start line for some reason and I don’t often feel like that,” said Wilson.

“It was because we knew what we were going to execute, we knew it was good, and I knew we were going to deliver it.

“We’re so ecstatic for the silver but the whole project has been so enjoyable that it just tops it off really. It’s a brilliant feeling.

“We definitely knew we could do it and I suppose that is pressure. But it also means we’re in a position where we are going fast and we knew that.

“So the pressure was outweighed by the confidence that we could do it.”

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