It was a successful European Rowing Championship in Varese, Italy over the weekend with Leander Club athletes picking up 14 medals – 8 gold, 1 silver and 5 bronze.
Polly Swann was paired with returning Olympian Helen Glover in the women’s pair who looked like she had never been away. The pair led the field throughout and secured a thrilling victory.
Commenting on winning the gold medal Helen Glover said: “Coming into the race we decided that the middle 1000m is where we really wanted to be strong, and we really felt in control during that section. Maybe that just left us missing a gear at the end, but I’m just really happy that we dug in and got the result. One big gain is by doing this race – far, far more questions would have been answered just by us winning this race. I was literally thinking today “am I going to make it down the track?”, which is silly because I do it in training every day, but just something about racing makes those doubts come to the surface. But I’ve squashed all those down, and I can move forward in being the athlete I know I am, and also into being the athlete I want to be as well.”
Polly Swann added: “It’s been a long winter, so just to come out and race again – especially with Helen after we last raced together in 2013 – it feels pretty epic. I don’t think we came here expecting to win – we expected to have speed, but it’s really nice to put the cherry on top of the cake and win.”
Also picking up gold with a dominant performance were the men’s four which included Leander’s Matt Rossiter and Sholto Carnegie who rowed with Ollie Cook and Rory Gibbs completing the quartet.
The Men’s 8 were also delighted to bring home gold. This crew was made up of 5 Leander athletes and the cox – Jacob Dawson, Thomas George, Charles Elwes, Thomas Ford, Henry Fieldman (cox) and Oliver Wynne-Griffith. Oliver Wynne-Griffith said: “That felt really composed. We didn’t get out to the best start, but no one panicked and we found a rhythm. We know what works for us from the race for lanes, and the boys just dug in. There were some really good shouts from the middle of the boat, Henry coxed it really well and kept letting us know where we were, and we just built as we went down the track. It’s nice to get a win in the first race of the season – obviously it’s been 20 months.”
“Overall the team’s done really well – the boys in the four obviously absolutely smashed it, so it just seems like everyone’s gone away and put in the hard work over lockdown and right now we’re seeing it come to fruition. Obviously this is only the start though, and we’ve just got to keep building.”
Vicky Thornley was beaten to a silver medal in the women’s single sculls.
The three bronze medals were won in the women’s double (W2x) with Holly Nixon representing Leander, John Collins from Leander partnering Graeme Thomas in the M2x and the trio of Leander athletes Rowan McKellar, Harriet Taylor and Karen Bennett in the women’s four (W4-).
Summarising the day’s racing, British Rowing’s Director of Performance Brendan Purcell said: “it’s been a collectively outstanding performance, with many of the crews excelling in pretty tough racing conditions. We’ve got a really exciting group of young coaches who have done a fantastic job across the board to instill strong belief into our rowers and they really came out all guns blazing today.”