Britain’s rowers put the past behind them and left the rest of the world trailing in their wake at the World Championships, writes Tom Harle.
British crews romped to seven medals in just three hours across Olympic and Paralympic boat classes in Račice, Czech Republic.
They swept the board at the European Championships but this session was a gold-dusted quantum leap for an Olympic squad that struggled in Tokyo.
World titles for the men’s and women’s four, lightweight women’s double and PR3 mixed four will rightly set rowing pulses racing for Paris 2024.
“There was a surge of amazing talent ready for the Paris Olympiad, not all of them were in Tokyo,” said double Olympic champion Helen Glover.
“We had so many athletes with so much talent ready to go and we’ve had a head start. We’re getting to the top of their game at the right time.”
Dame Katherine Grainger added: “Tokyo was such an odd Games, the Paris team was always there waiting. Britain were ready for Paris last year when the rest of the world wasn't.”
Congratulations to the #GBRowingTeam for topping the World Rowing Championships medal table!
The team came away with:
🥇 7 gold medals
🥈 1 silver medal
🥉 4 bronze medals
Read the final race report on our website now 👇https://t.co/yUbg1DJ0rR#WRChamps #WRCHRacice pic.twitter.com/0bZLB4kAkD
— British Rowing (@BritishRowing) September 25, 2022
Britain dominated the Tokyo Paralympics and haven’t missed a beat since, bedding in two new crew members to win a ninth successive world title in the mixed four.
Oliver Stanhope and Edward Fuller won gold in the men’s pair and Gierdre Rakauskaite and Frankie Allen in the women’s, combining to win the four in a world record time a day later.
If that crew’s challenge has been to maintain an unparalleled unbeaten run, the men’s four have been tasked with turning over a new leaf in British sporting history.
Samuel Nunn, Will Stewart, Freddie Davidson and David Ambler - senior debutants all - surged to gold and wrote a towering new chapter for Britain’s most famous boat.
They were rocked when regular crew member Matt Aldridge withdrew due to illness.
But the quartet showed maturity beyond their years to hold off the challenge of Olympic champions Australia and Netherlands, adding world gold to their European title.
Congratulations to the #GBRowingTeam for topping the medal table at the World Rowing Championships! 🏆
Catch up on all the races, reactions and medals with our Debrief and hear from special guests @jesseddie, @MarkHunterGB and @ErinWysocki🚣♀️
Watch now 👇https://t.co/82UyT80Rjr pic.twitter.com/aTIt5HrVhX
— British Rowing (@BritishRowing) September 27, 2022
Stewart said: “We're all new into the team this year. (Pressure) is not on our shoulders in the same way.
“We're here to get out there and do what we can do. Regardless of what's come before us, we’re going to make a name for ourselves.”
The women’s four are one of the most exciting crews in the world, crowning an incredible unbeaten season with a dominant row.
Rebecca Shorten, Samantha Redgrave, Heidi Long and Rowan McKellar were stroke-perfect in seeing off familiar foes in the Dutch and the Australians.
McKellar said: “It was tough for Rebecca and I to come back after the Olympics.
“We came into the squad and all the new girls created a really good atmosphere and good environment to train in.
“We didn’t want to waste this year, we’ve come out and we’ve hit it hard. We’ve stepped on with training and everyone has stepped on a huge amount this year. It’s showing now.”
The outstanding women’s lightweight double of Imogen Grant and Emily Craig delivered on favourite status to take gold.
They were more than three seconds clear of the field having missed out on an Olympic medal in Tokyo by one-hundredth.
“The photo finish from Tokyo is printed off and hanging on my living room wall,” Craig joked.
“Imogen’s quote after that race summed it up nicely - ‘you win or you learn’. We went away and we learned.”
Bronze medals for the women’s quad and men’s pair left Britain top of the medal table on nine with a day’s racing still to come.
Britain’s all-time best performance at the World Championships came in 2015 where they won 15 medals, five of which were gold.
British Rowing is responsible for the development of rowing in England and the training and selection of rowers to represent Great Britain. The GB Rowing Team is supported by the National Lottery Sports Fund. To find out more, and to follow the ongoing World Championships in Racice, head to https://www.britishrowing.org/