Coleraine’s place at the top table of international rowing looks assured for another few years as Joel Cassells became the latest medal winner.
The Bann Rowing Club old boy teamed up with another of the town’s famous rowing sons, Peter Chambers, to win gold at the European Championships in Poland on Sunday.
Chambers and Cassells set a European record of 6:28.58 to claim the lightweight pair title in Poznan.
The joy was there for all to see when Cassells spoke to the media afterwards.
“We knew the French would come back at us but felt we had enough to hold them off. It feels really great,” said a delighted Cassells.
The lightweight men’s pair were first in action for GB in the finals. They got off to a good start and took an early lead with the fast-starting Greeks. By 500m gone the British duo were half length up on the French in second with Greece having dropped back into third.. As the race moved through halfway the GB boat still had a half-length lead over the French. Spain came up to take third.
In the final 500m it was clear that the battle would be between the French and the British. France launched an attack and the British boat dug in and responded. Stroke by stroke the crews battled to the line with the British taking the verdict in 6:28.58 - a new European best time - to France’s 6:28.88. Germany were third.
“I’m not used to getting the final 250m of a race and feel comfortable. That made a big difference,” said Chambers when reflecting on the race.
His brother Richard also tasted medal success as he secured a silver in the lightweight double sculls with Englishman Will Fletcher.
Chambers and Fletcher put in an eye-catching turn of speed to win their semi-final and line up in Sunday’s final alongside France’s reigning European Champions Stany Delayer and Jeremie Azou who were the stand-out crew in last year’s event.
The British duo got a good start in the final and were neck and neck with the French after 500m gone. In the second 500m the French had eased out to a tenth of a second lead with Norway, former World Champions, challenging in third.
By the three-quarter mark it was clear that the French were in a class of their own as they moved out to a length lead. Now it was the British duo’s task to fend off the chasing pack which they did by half a length over Norway to take sliver in 6:14.33.
Great Britain claimed an impressive six golds from a medal tally of 10 on the final day of the European Championships.
Sir David Tanner, GB Rowing Team Performance Director said: “I am really impressed with our team performances today. It is a cracking start to the Olympic qualifying season.”