Pete Lambert pleased with a strong showing at the first GB Rowing Team winter assessment

Pete Lambert got through the first GB Rowing Team winter assessment unscathed after recovering from hip surgery and now has his sights set on a strong 2019 season

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Peter Lambert at GB Rowing Team Trials in 2017 (Naomi Baker)

“I didn’t go through all this rehab for nothing,” said Pete Lambert after his third-place finish in the 5km time trial at the GB Rowing Team first winter assessment on Sunday. The 31-year-old sculler has his sights set on the road to Tokyo 2020 after eight months on the sideline following hip surgery in March.

Lambert was warming up ahead of the quadruple sculls final at the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota-Bradenton when he suffered a back injury. It was serious enough to force him out of the boat just minutes before the final was due to start, with substitute Graeme Thomas stroking the crew to silver as Lambert received medical attention.

The injury was down to an issue with Lambert’s left hip, for which he underwent surgery in the spring. He returned to the water in August after a period of intense rehabilitation and worked to prepare for the weekend’s assessment.

“My first test back was to do the 2km ergo and the 5km [time trial]. I didn’t break, so that’s a positive,” Lambert said after his time trial on Sunday.

“That’s the biggest box that I needed to tick – being able to complete the Trials without hurting because after the [2017] World Championships I couldn’t move.

“I took the challenge with my rehab that I needed to gain a lot more strength and power – although I didn’t show that in the 2k! I’ve gained [power] from all the strength and conditioning that I was doing; I did a lot of that and not much endurance.

“I felt like I was doing my training, not what the squad was doing, but in a way I felt like I was a part of them. I lived through their results and, with the quad when they didn’t do so well, I was hurting with them.”

Like his teammates, Lambert’s focus is firmly on the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Linz, Austria, where Olympic and Paralympic qualification places will be on the line.

He says his goal for the new season is to help a GB crew into a qualification place at August’s Championships and to win the medal his injury denied him in 2017.

And Lambert had a throwback to his last World Championships medal in 2014 while rowing in Boston on Sunday, racing against his then quad sculls teammate Charles Cousins – himself making a comeback to Trials after rehabbing from the back surgery that kept him out of Rio 2016.

Cousins won the men’s single sculls division by a full 30 seconds from second place Matt Haywood and a further four ahead of his Boston roommate Lambert.

“It has been good to catch up and get the band back together. All we need now is to get Sam Townsend out of retirement and we’ll be loving it,” Lambert joked, referencing the silver medal-winning crew of the Amsterdam World Championships in 2014 that also featured Thomas.

“It’s good to see Charles; he has been doing well and is in a good spot.”

The second GB Rowing Team winter assessment takes place at the National Training Centre in Caversham on 15 December and is by invitation only. Candidates return to Boston for the third assessment on 9 February, 2019, ahead of Senior & U23 Trials at Caversham on 20-21 April.

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