PETER Chambers rise from Bann Rowing Club to the Olympic Games has been nothing short of meteoric.
Remarkably the 22-year-old started off his rowing career as a cox for Bann’s veteran eight aged just 12.
“I remember doing the Galway Head, we caught up the crew in front and I cut inside them round a bend,” he recalled. “I was quite chuffed. But soon I was getting too big and after a year or so I started rowing.”
Encouraged by club coach Seamus Reynolds, Peter was selected for the Irish team at the Coupe de la Jeunesse two years running, before following big brother to Oxford Brookes to read sports science.
What he found would have fazed more fragile characters. Brookes’s squad was physically imposing and richly experienced, but the newcomer could hardly have been happier.
“As soon as I got there I was ready to prove myself,” he said. “I always wanted to beat the big guys: it makes you work harder. It’s good to be beaten up on the erg machine occasionally. If we had had a separate lightweight group at Brookes I don’t think I would have improved so fast.”
By the age of 19 he was winning under-23 medals, and in 2011 won lightweight pairs gold at both the under-23 and senior world championships with rowing partner Kieran Emery.
And in brother Richard he had the perfect footsteps to follow in.
“Richard was definitely a big influence,” he said. “Also my coach Seamus Reynolds taught me as a junior about toughness and to keep pushing and pushing and how key that is. He’s very inspired by someone like Muhammad Ali.”
As a junior Peter rowed successfully for Ireland and in 2008, after winning the European junior title, he went to Beijing to watch Richard row in the Olympics.
“It was very inspiring to see those guys and really wanting to be out there even though I was nowhere near the standard of any of the guys but I thought it would be just be cool to be part of that.”
Peter raced in the lightweight quad at the 2009 World Under- 23 Championships, where he won bronze, and a year later took silver in the lightweight men’s single sculls before going to his first world senior championships on New Zealand’s Lake Karapiro, where he was placed sixth in the final of the same event.
This season, paired with Emery, they took silver in the first World Cup regatta in Munich. Peter was then called into the lightweight four for Lucerne to replace the injured Chris Bartley. Sitting in front of his brother Richard they raced away from the field to clinch an impressive gold medal.
Buoyed by that success Peter headed to Amsterdam for the world Under-23s and the rest of his season has been, as they say, history.
The brothers picked up their Olympic selection in June, thankfully they weren’t competing for the same position - Peter rows bow-side, while Richard is on stroke-side – a relief for both.
“If necessary, I would have switched,” admitted Peter. “I wouldn’t have wanted to compete against Richard.”