Ten boats bound for Tokyo after World Rowing Championships
01 September 2019 / 17:46
Britain rounded off the World Rowing Championships with bronze in the men's eight and can reflect on a successful regatta after qualifying ten boats for Tokyo 2020.
With men’s and women’s eights doing the necessary in finals on the last day of racing, only Netherlands matched Britain in terms of quota spots sealed for next year’s Games.
The men’s eight’s storied rivalry with Germany has not lost its lustre and the two nations shared the podium once again in Linz Ottensheim, Austria.
The British crew of Tom George, James Rudkin, Josh Bugajski, Moe Sbihi, Jacob Dawson, Ollie Wynne-Griffith, Mat Tarrant, Tom Ford and cox Henry Fieldman came home in 05:22.35, fewer than three seconds shy of the Germans and the Dutch in the silver medal position.
Double Olympic medallist Sbihi feels his crew are making great strides and their first big collective triumph is on the horizon.
“We should be really happy with the fact we held the medal position,” said the 31-year-old, part of the victorious coxless four crew in Rio.
“I always enjoy racing Germany and respect them so much. They’re an outstanding crew.
“We have some variances in our performance but they are getting smaller. When you look at this year compared to last year, you can see we've medalled in every single race.
“The performances are getting better and that's only putting us in good stead.
“I've been saying it all along to these boys, the moment they win, they're going to understand, and flourish, and fly.
“It didn't happen on this occasion but what better chance to do it for the first time next year.”
The women’s eight of Fiona Gammond, Zoe Lee, Jo Wratten, Hattie Taylor, Rowan McKellar, Rebecca Shorten, Karen Bennett, Holly Norton and cox Matilda Horn dug in to claim their place on the start line in Tokyo.
They came home for fifth in a relatively comfortable 06:06.96 but had to show resilience to hold off Romania in the final 500 metres and claim the final qualification spot.
Olympic silver medallist Vicky Thornley impressed in the single sculls with fourth place on the world stage, a slither off the podium with an Olympic berth safely secured.
And with Graeme Thomas and John Collins in the same position of security, they finished fourth to end a stellar season that has yielded two medals on the World Cup circuit.
Other boats assured of an Olympic quota spot are the women’s pair, the lightweight women’s double, the men’s and women’s four and men’s and women’s quads.
Director of Performance Brendan Purcell said: “Our goal coming out to this World Championships was always Olympic qualification and the team has delivered.
“We have now qualified ten of our Olympic boats and to have both our eights heading to the Games is an important marker for a big rowing nation.
“I would like to thank Jurgen (Grobler) for his passion, commitment to the role and the challenge he provides to ensure we continue to look for ways to be the best.
“We now need to go away and prioritise our boats, focus on converting the opportunities into medals and look to seek additional qualifications. We have a lot of momentum to build on going into next season.”