Medal tar­get achieved a day early for GB

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Sport - By Rachel Quar­rell

Ac­cord­ing to GB oars­man Jack Beau­mont, “There is never a dull day in the men’s quad”. He might as well have said “in the GB squad” as a tu­mul­tuous day ended with gold, sil­ver and bronze de­spite a last-sec­ond sub­sti­tu­tion in a top crew.

The men’s four hid for as long as pos­si­ble the fact Rio cham­pion Will Satch was back and ready to race. De­spite re­gain­ing their strong stroke­man, the four ad­mit­ted after­wards it had been an even more dis­rupted year than we re­alised. In the end, bronze, with Poland snap­ping at their heels, was the sort of vic­tory not al­ways ac­knowl­edged by Bri­tons who yearn for gold.

“It was a bro­ken win­ter, not ideal, and we are on the way up, that’s the pos­i­tive,” said Moe Sbihi. “We gave it our all.” The sight of the Union Jack on the ‘wrong’ flag­pole, with Australia and Italy cel­e­brat­ing gold and sil­ver be­side them, will give the men mo­ti­va­tion for win­ter train­ing.

Instead, it was the quad, orig­i­nally hop­ing to mount a se­ri­ous chal­lenge to Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Lithua­nia, who found them­selves need­ing a race de­lay and quick sub­sti­tute when stroke Pete Lam­bert’s back be­gan to twinge badly at the end of their warm-up.

Dou­ble sculler Graeme Thomas had said good luck to them and was sit­ting in the grand­stand when he re­alised his phone was buzzing with mes­sages and calls to re­port for duty. “I dropped my water bot­tle, room key, ev­ery­thing was fly­ing out the bag, and ran to the pon­toon. I changed into my kit, and we went. It wasn’t pretty, I just pow­ered it down the course, the guys were so calm and cool. They stuck to their plan, and I just had to keep row­ing.” After start­ing slowly, Lithua­nia duly took the gold, but Bri­tain’s quar­tet per­formed hero­ically, pass­ing Hol­land and fend­ing off Es­to­nia to take an ex­tra­or­di­nary sil­ver. For Thomas it was vin­di­ca­tion a year after he had to drop out the Rio Olympics due to ill­ness.

The women’s quad has not been in a world final since the 2010 crew won gold, but this time put to­gether a ma­ture race which brought a wel­come bronze. By con­trast, the new para-row­ing four’s world best time and gold by 10 lengths was un­dra­matic, but with the other three, achieved GB Row­ing’s UK Sport medal tar­get with a day of rac­ing yet to go.

Sil­ver ser­vice: The men’s quad team took sec­ond place at the World Cham­pi­onships

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