The Road to Paris 2024: European Champions all around

'European Champion' were the words on everyone's lips this week as Great Britain clinched seven continental crowns across two sports on the road to Paris 2024.

European champs galore

Britain topped the table at the European Rowing Championships in Hungary with a staggering five golds and one silver in Olympic boats.

Two-time Olympic champion Helen Glover revealed that her fifth European gold was the most composed she has ever felt in a boat.

Teaming up with women's four crewmates Rebecca Shorten, Sam Redgrave and Esme Booth, Glover claimed her first gold since returning to Olympic rowing last year.

Britain took the spoils in both fours events as Oli Wilkes, David Ambler, Matt Aldridge and Freddie Davidson defended their men's four title in style to launch another golden season on the water.

The women's quadruple sculls and men's eight will also enter Paris 2024 as the reigning World and European champions after a roaring few years on the water.

The two boats stormed to gold once more, with the women's quad of Lauren Henry, Hannah Scott, Lola Anderson and Georgie Brayshaw shaking off a nervy start to the season to return to the top of the podium.

Ollie Wynne-Griffith and Tom George wrapped up the golden event by winning their first-ever championship title as a duo in the men's pair whilst there was a solid silver for the women's eight.

What they said:

"Gold was definitely what we were after but it was also the most composed I've ever felt in a race," said Glover.

"I've got a lot of confidence in our crew and I had this sense that it was still a learning process. I'm really excited that we are new and still have so much to learn.

"It was about making sure we were solid enough in the middle that we could do our own thing for the rest of the race."

What's next:

The second rowing World Cup of the season will take place in Lucerne, Switzerland from 24-26 May.

Whitehouse and Jarman light up Italy

Luke Whitehouse was a late addition to the Men's European Artistic Gymnastics Championships team but came, saw and dominated in Rimini.

Whitehouse stepped in for Max Whitlock following the three-time Olympic champion's withdrawal from the competition due to a slight wrist injury but was well used to the conditions as the defending European champion on the floor exercise.

The 21-year-old scored 14.866 in the floor final to pip Olympic champion Artem Dolgopyat of Israel to the gold by just 0.033.

Whitehouse had already dethroned Dolgopyat at the same event last year but withstood the pressure to repeat his victory in Italy.

A day later and 'God Save the King' was echoing around the arena once more as Jake Jarman added the vault European title to his world crown.

The 22-year-old, who won Great Britain's first world vault title in 2023, scored 15.000 and 14.766 with his two vaults to clinch gold with an average of 14.883.

Jarman, alongside James Hall, Joe Fraser, Harry Hepworth and Courtney Tulloch added a second medal of the event to his collection with team silver on the final day, narrowly missing out on gold to Ukraine.

What was said:

"The feeling of standing on that medal podium - it's emotional - competing for your country and winning medals, it’s a proud, proud moment," said Whitehouse.

"Last year there were no expectations but this year there was a bit more pressure; I tried to stay calm, and be confident in what I know I can do."

Jarman added: "To come away with another vault gold medal feels truly amazing.

"I’m really happy with how I’m progressing as a whole and to have the World and European titles gives me so much motivation and momentum hopefully towards the Olympics if selected."

What's next

The Women's European Artistic Gymnastics Championships will now take centre stage from 2-5 May in Rimini with Britain heading in as the reigning team silver medallists.

Sailing team complete

Connor Bainbridge made it a full team of British sailors for Paris 2024 after clinching the final quota spot at the French Olympic Sailing Week.

The Halifax native has been on the cusp of securing Team GB Formula Kite qualification multiple times but laid down a dominant performance in Hyères to get the job done.

With five spots up for grabs, Bainbridge made a slow start by his standards but rallied to win nine of the last ten races and claim gold.

Bainbridge was joined on the top step by Team GB's Micky Beckett, who won the ILCA 7 class by overcoming another battle with rival Matt Wearn from Australia.

In the Formula Kite Women class, Ellie Aldridge led the fleet into the final before winning silver behind Jessie Kampman of France whilst the mixed 470 pairing of Bettine Harris and Martin Wrigley claimed a landmark bronze medal.

What they said:

β€œIt’s been a long time coming,” said Bainbridge.

β€œI couldn’t have asked more - to come out with so many race wins really builds my confidence going into the final run-up to the Games. It was physically and emotionally exhausting.”

What's next:

The 470 European Championships takes place in Cannes, France from the 4 May, with Team GB's Vita Heathcote and Chris Grube setting sail.

Show jumping clean sweep

Oliver Townend lead a British equestrian clean sweep at the Kentucky Three-Day Event.

On his 100th start at 5* level, the Tokyo 2020 gold medallist soared from third to first in the final phase of show jumping to clinch gold.

Second place went to Townend's Team GB teammate Tom McEwen, who saw a time penalty and fence down push him from the top spot after the dressage and cross-country.

Whilst bronze went to Britain's Yasmin Ingham who ended on 35.6 points.

What was said:

"I can’t tell you how proud I am of this horse," said Townend of his horse Cooley Rosalent.

"I’m still in shock. This is just the most special event in the world and a special day in all of our lives."

Sportsbeat 2024