Graeme Thomas went from the stands to the boat in a matter of minutes before going on to win a world silver medal as a last-minute replacement in the men’s quad sculls.
The silver was one of three medals won by British crews on the penultimate day of the World Championships, in Florida.
Their female counterparts in the women’s quad won bronze, as did the men’s four, while the women’s pair, men’s pair and lightweight women’s double finished fourth, fifth and fifth, respectively.
Thomas was the star of the show, though, with Pete Lambert tweaking his back in the warmup, the crew were forced to row back to the pontoon, to pick up a rushing Thomas.
“I was sat next to my mum in the grandstand, I thought they’d boated, I wished them the best of luck, it was all done – and then I’m getting 100 million Whatsapps saying ‘you’re needed now’ - so I legged it,” he said.
“But these boys did so well, if they hadn’t have kept their cool I wouldn’t have been able to do anything, so full credit to those boys.”
Thomas was joined by Jack Beaumont, John Collins and Jonny Walton as they finished behind Lithuania, with the latter paying tribute to their late substitute.
“We didn’t think that was going to happen this morning!” said Walton.
“We just had to go against everything and row against the circulation to get back to the pontoon.
“There was a bit of a mad scramble to find someone, but luckily he was there – the man of the moment.”
In the women’s quad sculls Holly Nixon, Jess Leyden, Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne and Bethany Bryan finished behind the Netherlands and Poland, but pipped Germany to the all-important final podium spot.
“It’s quite a surprise to all be fully fit and racing together, we had a good three-week block recently where we really brought the crew together,” said Leyden.
“But there’s six of us in this project that have all moved the boat on – so this medal is for all the girls because they’ve done an awesome job when each one of us has been out.”
The men’s four – reigning Olympic champions – were beaten to the line by Australia and Italy as Will Satch came back into the quartet for the final following his illness earlier in the competition.
Joined by Moe Sbihi and Matthews Rossiter and Tarrant, the four were fifth after 500m, before improving to third at the halfway stage and maintaining their position until the line.
“We’re disappointed, but if I was being honest it’s been quite a difficult season for us as a four,” said Sbihi.
“We tried something a little bit different, but right now, this year, that’s where we are, unfortunately.
“You could tell that everyone wanted to beat us today, and all week. We have to live with that pressure the whole season.”
Elsewhere there was a tenth-place finish for the lightweight men’s double and seventh for the women’s four.
Pictures: Naomi Baker