Graeme Thomas revels in World Championship bronze

Graeme Thomas revels in World Championship bronze

By Will Jennings

Graeme Thomas powered through the toughest race of his career to win an unexpected World Championship bronze medal he admits felt like gold.

The Preston rower, 33, bagged single sculls bronze in Racice after crossing the line behind decorated duo Oliver Zeidler and Melvin Twellaar.

Thomas’ usual terrain is part of the quadruple or double sculls crews but he took a bold leap into the unknown in the Czech Republic to fly solo for the first time in a decade.

The former rugby star battled to fifth at last month’s European Championships in Munich and admits hauling himself onto the podium at world level exceeded his wildest expectations.

Thomas said: “The magnitude of that race, it was the hardest race I’ve ever been involved in all the way to the line.

“I’m physically spent and to be honest, pretty emotionally spent as well.

“People say single sculling is a lonely game, and it can be at times, but I’ve had every coach who’s ever coached me, and every sculler I’ve ever rowed with, in my mind out there.

“A bronze for me in this event is like a gold – I don’t feel like I’m some big superhero athlete, and it took everything I had to get that.

“It’s been a dream for a long time to be able to win a medal in the single – it’s the ultimate boat class. You ask anyone which class they want to win a gold medal in, it’s the single.

“It’s 100 per cent you, it’s all on you.

“It’s definitely a [career] highlight – there’s no hiding place out there and that was everything I had to offer today.

“It was a highly, highly decorated field and I’m on the podium – I’m absolutely buzzing with that.”

Thomas has enjoyed a rock-solid international career in the quad since scooping both world and European silver in Belgrade and Amsterdam in 2014.

His single sculls bronze on Sunday marked his fourth World Championship medal after narrowly missing out on an Olympic gong in Tokyo alongside John Collins in the double last summer.

Thomas and Collins, 33, also banked bronze at last year’s European Championships in Varese, Italy, before the Lancashire ace opted for a crack at the single sculls this season ahead of a jam-packed summer of rowing.

And it unequivocally paid off as he followed up his admirable European showing with a brilliant bronze just five weeks later.

Thomas added: “It’s my debut season in the single but I’m overjoyed and over the moon.

“I never really had the belief I could compete in this event – at 33, to come into the single for the first time, seeing all the younger guys recover so much faster than me, I didn’t know how I was going to compete.

“I feel I came back too soon after Tokyo but that’s what put me in this position – it’s been emotionally really tough.

“I didn’t feel I was fit enough at the start of season and the quad was my best medal chance.

“I need a holiday and to see where my mindset is when I get back.”

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