Sbihi breaks British record – in his back garden
For the second time in four weeks, the British record for rowing two kilometres on a machine has been broken. Moe Sbihi recorded 5min 39.4sec, beating the previous best set last month by Tom George, his British Rowing team-mate, by two tenths of a second. George, himself, had beaten Sbihi’s long-standing record of 5:40.0, which he set in 2016.
“I was genuinely inspired by his achievement,” Sbihi said, speaking via Zoom from his home in west London. “I did it out in my back garden. Fortunately, it was a nice day so I didn’t have to put the tarpaulin up to keep off the rain. I was texting Tom during the day and he reminded me of something Stuart Broad had said [ahead of reaching 500 Test wickets during the series with the West Indies]: if not now, then when?
“I was incredibly nervous before I went for it; it felt like a final. Matt Pinsent has always spoken about nerves being a good thing. I have to agree with him. It was clearly my body getting ready for the task.”
The record is one all rowers can relate to; going below 5:40 for the 2K has long been reckoned the equivalent of breaking the fourminute mile. Sbihi suggested it was about time British rowers started to push back the record.
“I think it’s long overdue in the British team. We’ve had many a great physical beast come through, but for some reason very few had gone sub-5:42. Seeing what other nations are doing – the Kiwis have a couple who have broken 5:40, the Australian Josh Dunkley-Smith did an incredible 5:35.8 – I felt we needed to make a mark. Four years ago I got 5:40 on the nose and the truth is, I haven’t got close in four long years since.”
Sbihi added that the recordDecember, breaking flurry may have been an unintended consequence of coronavirus restrictions.
“When lockdown came and we couldn’t train on the water, it became a very focused time on the rowing machine,” he said. “Without lockdown, we wouldn’t have done so many 2Ks, Tom wouldn’t have broken the record, I wouldn’t have done. During the time training at home, Tom and I have pushed each other on. Tom will very shortly more than likely break my score again, he is still a young guy. I’m very excited to see where he will take it.”
Rather than breaking records in his back garden, Sbihi was due right now to be in Tokyo, together with George competing in the British eight in the Olympic programme.
“I think we both agree, records are great, but a gold medal is far more important than any individual accolades,” Sbihi said. “I’m sure other nations will look at this and think: great, let’s see you out on the water. That said, it gives confidence and I think it shows the real hunger we all have within the team is to become Olympic champions.”
Challenge: Moe Sbihi regained his British 2km record then called on his fellow rowers to push it further