Thornley takes step closer to Tokyo with British Trials success

Vicky Thornley moved a step closer to the Tokyo Olympics after powering to victory at the British Trials on an action-packed final day at the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake.

Great Britain qualified ten boats for the Tokyo Games at last year’s World Championships, and the Tokyo 2020 squad will be unveiled later this summer.

Thornley won silver alongside Katherine Grainger in the double sculls four years ago and has since switched to the women’s singles, where she held off Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne and Kyra Edwards to win.

“It’s good to get a win again at trials,” Thornley said.

“There’s always big pressure with it being Olympic trials but it’s good to get the job done and we’ve had some decent conditions out here on the water.

“To qualify the single for the Games last year was amazing – it was job done today.”

The first race brought a close contest in the men’s pairs final as Rory Gibbs and Matt Rossiter narrowly held off the challenge from two-time Olympic medallist Moe Sbihi and Ollie Wynne-Griffith, with Jacob Dawson and Tom Ford in third.

Rossiter said he ‘couldn’t stop grinning’ and Gibbs added: “When I came off the water I kind of wanted to shout with joy, but of course you have to keep it down for everyone else.

“I’m just so chuffed to come away with the win in Olympic year. Hats off to the whole team; everyone has stepped up for the whole weekend and delivered.

“Now I’m really looking forward to what comes next.”

The women’s pairs final was equally competitive, with Rebecca Shorten and Rowan McKellar coming out on top after a hard-fought battle against Emily Ford and Polly Swann, who had to settle for second.

Shorten said: “The semi-final was OK but we learned a lot from it that we were able to take into the final.

“In the previous race we were pipped right on the line so today we were focused on staying ahead and staying calm.”

In the lightweight women’s single sculls, Imogen Grant was victorious after a close contest with runner-up Emily Craig.

The men’s single sculls saw Graeme Thomas produce a sprint finish to pull clear of Harry Leask and Jack Beaumont, who finished second and third respectively.

“This weekend has ended in a win so I’m happy,” said Thomas, who pulled out of the Rio Games due to illness.

“I have to pay respect to my opposition; it’s a really tough gig in the single scull and everyone out there has a lot of experience.

“Harry pushed me for a long, long way today and thankfully I just had a good sprint at the end. I’m the first to admit that I’ve not had a great winter by my standards but to do the business today shows I’m on the right track.” Sportsbeat 2020