It was damp, grey and just above freezing but it wasn’t going to dampen the spirits of the latest protégé to roll of the impressive Bann Rowing Club production line as he made a triumphant return home last week.
Eighteen-year-old Joel Cassells is following in some pretty illustrious footsteps left by Alan Campbell and the Chambers brothers.
But he is doing pretty well so far. Along with Chris Black he became the first ever junior to sin a senior title at the Irish Senior Championships last year. And they also won double gold at the Coupe de la Jeunesse to go along with their success at the European Junior International Regatta in Munich.
He took another major step forward on his journey last week at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival after visiting the podium twice.
Cassells won double bronze for GB in the Fours and Eights last Sunday bouncing back superbly from the disappointment of a fourth place finish in the Men’s B Pairs final just 24 hours earlier.
When he came home to Bann on Thursday his smile was still as wide as the river he has grown up on.
“I don’t think I’ve come back down to earth yet....I’m suffering from jet lag and Olympic euphoria“ he told Times Sport.
“It was a fantastic feeling to win a medal at such a high profile event. It was one thing to have the success that I had last year, but to medal at an event with the Olympic rings is fantastic.
“It’s not the Olympics. The Australian Youth Olympics is meant to be a developmental thing to give people Under 19 a taste of what it will be like.
“It’s not as grand as the Olympics, but it definitely gives you feel of what it’s like with the Opening Ceremony and having the Olympic rings everywhere.
“It is a full international regatta...for most it’s your international debut...it was mine for GB.
“It has given me a sample of what it would be like for sure.
“My family, friends and everyone at Bann Rowing Club have given me massive support and advice, I couldn’t do without it.
“It doesn’t matter how many times you compete at the top events you still get nervous, but you know you’ve done the training and you’re there to perform and medal...that’s what I’m there to do.
“It was fantastic when I came back home everyone was congratulating me which meant a lot to me.
“It’s great for the club to have more medals coming here, it was nice to keep up the tradition. Hopefully I can build on it and bring back more medals.
The level headed young man, who is studying Law and Politics at Oxford Brookes, has clearly been brought up the right way by his own family and the ’family’ at Bann.
And the exploits of Campbell and the Chambers brothers in London have clearly made a big impression on him.
“When I was sitting in the church that day Peter and Richard were racing in the final of the Lightweight four my heart was going about 200 beats a minute I’m sure. That’s how passionate I am about the sport,” said Cassells.
“When I was standing on the podium for the medal ceremony and the flag went up all I could think of was London and what Alan Campbell and Peter and Richard Chambers achieved and thinking that maybe I could be there in four years time.
“But it’s just one step at a time for me at the minute, but it’s on my list of goals and dreams.
“Just look what Peter Chambers has achieved in the last year, that’s the inspiration for me.
“Peter is at Oxford Brookes with me and he is giving me advice every step of the way.
“I would love to follow in his footsteps and that’s what I’m trying to do.
“I have GB trials in three weeks time for the Under-23 Worlds which are being held in Austria at the end of July.
“That’s my next goal for GB. Just have to keep my head down and keep working hard and see what happens.
“I’m loving Uni life. It’s very hard training, it’s very grass roots and nothing like the likes of Leander.
“I’m coping with it well and it’s setting me up nicely.
“This year we’re aiming for Henley and seeing where we are at in terms of tempo.”
Cassells is hoping Bann can reap the benefit of its rowers’ success on the international stage to help the production line keep rolling.
“Hopefully the more medals Bann members can win the more it highlights the great work that’s going on here and helps the club’s push for new facilities,” he added.
“It the past few months we’ve had the Prime Minister David Cameron and DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín visit our club.
“Everyone knows the great work that’s going on here in terms of coaching and the rowers that being produced. We just need finding to help improve the facilities and then the sky really will be the limit.”