Willem-Alexander Baan, Rotterdam
21-28 August 2016
Twelve Leander athletes returned with medal from Rotterdam, where the brand-new Willem-Alexander Baan hosted the non-Olympic and U23 World Championships.
Leander vice-captain Callum McBrierty with his partner Ollie Cook of UL and Molesey cox Henry Fieldman successfully defended GB’s title in the men coxed pair with a storming victory.
The third 500m was when Cook and McBrierty really came into their own and when Fieldman told them to move they accelerated away, adding the world title to the gold they won at the Poznan World Cup.
“If we had to define our perfect race, we almost had it down to a tee. We were relentless with every stroke” said McBrierty afterwards.
The women’s four included Fi Gammond, Holly Nixon and Holly Norton from Leander, as well as Molesey’s Donna Etiebet. Coached by Leander’s Jane Hall they got off to a flying start and motored away in the second half of the race to claim the world champion’s title in style.
Norton said: “We just kept our focus. Everyone did their job and there was perfect harmony between the four of us out there. It’s great to be on the podium with these girls, representing this programme and the next generation of rowers coming through. Thank you to the National Lottery, UK Sport, all the support staff behind the scenes and our coach, Jane Hall – they are all a big part of this success.”
An outstanding display of sculling from Leander’s Jess Leyden and Mathilda Hodgins-Byrne of Reading University secured the gold medal in women’s doubles.
Clear-water winners in both their heat and semi-final, the talented scullers produced another outstanding performance to finish well clear of the field.
It was a second world title for Leyden, who won single sculling gold at the 2013 Junior Championships.
“I just got my head down and did what Mathilda told me to. It’s been a very busy summer for both of us and it has ended in the right way” she said.
There was a silver medal for the GB U23 men’s four, including Leander’s James Johnston and Tom George, with James Rudkin and Lewis McCue. They came within 0.4 sec of gold with both winners Austria and GB going within two seconds of a championships-best time.
It was a second successive silver in the four for Johnston and McCue, who said: “It was a great race and we put everything out there, it just wasn’t quite enough. Austria were the better crew on the day, well done to them.”
Leander’s Ed Fisher and Jonny Jackson were representing GB in the lightweight men’s four for a second successive year, with Ben Reeves and Alistair Douglass, having won bronze in 2015.
They faced some familiar faces in their final, where two of last year’s gold medal Italian crew survived along with a couple of members of the German silver medallists.
The same three crews shared the medals after the GB crew put in a massive sprint to overhaul Poland, with Germany and Italy charging away at the front of the field.
“It’s just a shame we weren’t a bit closer to Italy and Germany. We went out hard but they just went out harder and took each other away from the field” said Fisher.