Medals for North West rowers
North West rowers won gold, silver and bronze medals for the GB Rowing Team at the first World Cup of the 2012 season.
All 12 GB Rowing Team crews that started Sunday's finals at the world cup in Belgrade finished their journey on the podium as Britain won four golds, six silver and two bronze medals to add to their international-class gold and silver from Saturday's racing.
Chester's reigning Olympic and World Champion Tom James won gold in the new-look men's four, Olympic silver medallists Ric Egington from Knutsford and Matt Langridge marked their return to the men's eight with silver behind World Champions Germany, another Chester rower Chris Bartley won silver in the lightweight men's four and Warrington's Olivia Whitlam won bronze in the women's eight.
Britain also took the overall world cup trophy by 79 points to Germany’s 47.
“It’s been a very good day”, said GB Rowing Team Performance Director David Tanner. “To win 12 medals from 12 starts is as good if not better than I would have hoped before coming here.
“It was a good field here but we know there are more teams to come in for the next world cups so we will not be sitting back on our laurels from here”, he said.
Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter, the Olympic and World Champions, held off a spirited Greek challenge to take gold. Reigning World Champions Anna Watkins and Katherine Grainger were also winners on Sunday with some quality given to their race by a strong German double.
The men’s four of Alex Gregory, Chester's Tom James, Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge showed on Sunday that is it is beginning to fire by dominating from the front from the halfway.
“We’ve shown glimpses of real speed in training recently but we haven’t quite recreated it”, said Hodge. “We have our feet on the ground and some of the big nations are still to join the party”.
James added: “It was important that we showed good basic rhythm today. We can improve but this was a good starting point and it shows we are quick.
“There will be increased expectations on us now but we are ready for that. We are just concentrating on what we can do and not worrying about the opposition”.
Their victory came halfway through the finals programme which was opened with Heather Stanning and Helen Glover winning gold in the women’s pair.
Whitlam and the women's eight - without the injured Lou Reeve and Polly Swann - were rowed through by Romania in the closing stages of their race. She said: “It was not the race I wanted to come back to but it’s a starting point. We had the speed at the start but we got rowed through which was disappointing. It’s a new crew and I think we have the engine in the boat but the skills aren’t as sharp as they need to be yet”.
Britain and Germany were expected to go head to head in the men's eight race as World silver and gold medalists respectively and GB led until halfway before Germany edged away. The GB crew, whilst disappointed, will take confidence and lessons from this performance.
Ric Egington said: “We did a pretty good job considering we had to make a change to the crew a couple of days ago (Nathaniel Reilly O'Donnell replacing the injured Constantine Louloudis). It was a big change and we only had a short time to get it together and it showed up the longer the race went on. It’s early days for me in the eight – I haven’t rowed in an eight for a long time and I feel that I’m still finding my feet. But it was an encouraging start”.
Langridge said: “It was great to get out ahead of the Germans in the first half of the race but when we get out in front we need to learn how to stay out there and build on it”.
Tanner added: “There were some very disappointed silver medalists, like the men’s eight who lost out to World Champions, Germany. But that shows how ambitious they are.”
Further silvers were won by the lightweight women’s double of Sophie Hosking and Kat Copeland, Alan Campbell in the men’s single and the lightweight men’s four of Chris Bartley, Rob Williams and the Chambers brothers Richard and Peter.
The women’s eight and quadruple scull were GB’s bronze medalists.
Earlier this week Hester Goodsell, 2008 Olympian in the lightweight women’s double scull and twice a World Championships medalist, announced her retirement from the sport at international level and will return to work as a music teacher in September.