Sbihi breaks Bri­tish record – in his back gar­den

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - Row­ing By Jim White

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

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