‘To be part of women’s rowing when there’s a quarter of a length covering the whole field is so exciting’

Matilda Horn, James Johnston, Sam Mottram and Harry Leask explain what it’s like to win medals at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships


Matilda Horn coxing the women's eight (Naomi Baker)

As British crews rowed the final 250m of Strathclyde Loch on Saturday and Sunday, roars of the home crowd emanated from grandstands on both sides of the lake.

For Matilda Horn, the cox of the women’s eight, the cheers helped spur her on, with the British crew edging ahead of the Netherlands in the closing metres to secure silver behind Romania.

With just three nations entering a women’s eight, GB faced tough opposition in the reigning world champions of Romania and one of the standout crews of the season so far in the Netherlands.

But Horn says her crew put together one of their best rows to come away with silver in an incredibly tight race.

“To be part of women’s rowing when there’s a quarter of a length covering the whole field is so exciting,” she said.

“During the race I was banging on the boat and could hear the home crowd; the adrenaline was flowing and we were going over the last 500m higher than we’ve ever gone.

“The passion was there so we need to take what we’ve learned from this weekend and take it forwards.”

The men’s four also beat a number of strong crews to take silver in Glasgow. They beat eventual champions Romania in the heats to qualify directly to the final. On Saturday in the final, they beat the likes of fellow heats winners and World Cup 1 champions Netherlands and Italy, featuring three of the four 2017 World Championships silver medallists, to finish second.

“It’s great that we’re among the medal contenders now,” said GB strokeman James Johnston.

“We knew we had the speed, it was just about delivering it on the day. At the first World Cup we had a last minute illness, at the second World Cup we didn’t quite get it right.

“We went away for a bit and had a good Henley Royal Regatta, which was fantastic. So to come in today on home water in a European Championships and get a good row in was wonderful.”

Sam Mottram picked up his first senior international medal this weekend at Strathclyde Country Park, finishing third in a very competitive lightweight men’s single sculls field.

Mottram said afterwards that he felt he had unfinished business in the lightweight single following a sixth place finish in the 2016 World U23 Championships. In Glasgow on Sunday he staged the perfect second-half comeback to move from last to third and take a hard fought bronze.

“It means so much to me. I’ve worked on it for so many years since first starting at Upper Thames RC,” he said afterwards.

“I worked for years and had little glimmers of success here and there, so to come out and do it on my own in my own boat is the best feeling.”

Harry Leask was due to race in the openweight single sculls in Glasgow, but after the late withdrawal of fellow Scot Angus Groom, Leask found himself with the opportunity to join Jack Beaumont in the double sculls.

Just six tenths of a second separated France in first and GB in third in the thrilling conclusion to the race. And while they wanted to win the final, Leask says he can be happy with bronze in his first senior championship regatta.

He said: “If you had told me last week that I’d be in a double and would come third I would have jumped at that; it has been a great opportunity and awesome to row with Jack.

“I’m Scottish, so this is my home which makes it even better to pick up a medal on the podium.”

Now, the GB Rowing Team senior squad prepares for the World Championships in Plovdiv between 9-16 September. Each of the men’s, women’s and Para-rowing squads will embark on two training camps ahead of the championships.

The GB junior squad are the next in action in the World Rowing Junior Championships, which take place in Racice between 8-12 August.