FEATURE: Sam Townsend hails sculling strength in depth ahead of Europeans

Sam Townsend believes the fierce internal competition for places in the GB Rowing Team sculling squad can help him achieve his dream of a historic Olympic medal at Rio 2016.

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Peter Lambert, Sam Townsend, Jack Beaumont and Graeme Thomas won men's quadruple scull bronze at the 2015 European Championships in Poznan

Britain’s sculling fortunes have gone from strength to strength during the past decade, with Townsend a key figure in that process.

In 2010 he was part of the first GB men’s quadruple scull crew to reach a World Championships final in 28 years, then Townsend and Bill Lucas were finalists in the double scull at London 2012.

Townsend has been an ever-present in the quad during this Olympiad and helped to secure GB’s first-ever World Championship medals in the boat – bronze in 2013 and silver in 2014.

Now the 30-year-old has his sights firmly set on a gold medal at this summer’s Olympics, with the next big step on the road to Rio being the announcement of the European Championships squad on April 6 – the first selection of the Olympic season.

Do we really believe we can go out there and get that gold in Rio? I certainly do

A host of talented rowers are coming through the sculling programme and challenging for a place in the three Olympic boats, as demonstrated at last week’s Olympic-season Trials, but Townsend is thriving on the added pressure.

“That is an attitude we have always taken – we want that competition, we want to help people get better,” said Townsend, a graduate of GB Rowing Team Start who first took up the sport after being identified as a potential rowing champion while a pupil at Chiltern Edge School in Sonning Common.

“That ethos has helped the whole group push on. We have people desperate to make seats and that competition will ultimately end with high-quality boats that can hopefully medal at the Olympics.

“We know we have quality in our squad and it’s going to be down to how well we train, how well we gel. Do we really believe we can go out there and get that gold in Rio? I certainly do and I am pretty confident the rest of the boys do as well.”

The GB Rowing Team is supported by the Lottery through UK Sport and has Science in Sport as a supplier.  SAS Analytics is the Official Analytics Partner of British Rowing and the GB Rowing Team. Follow Britain’s rowers on the Road to Rio via Twitter – @GBRowingTeam – and at www.facebook.com/GBRowingTeam.

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