Brothers in arms

Richard Chambers'Photo-William Cherry/Presseye
Richard Chambers'Photo-William Cherry/Presseye

FOR Richard Chambers the thought of having his younger brother Peter in his boat for the Olympics not only fills him with great pride but also utter confidence.

The elder sibling knows that he can trust his brother from start to finish.

“He’s just a different athlete from the last two years: stronger, fitter, he’s phenomenal,” said Richard “When racing he’s the one you want in your boat. He just goes until the buzzer, he won’t stop.”

At trials Peter will try to beat those with more sculling expertise, but a place in the top four should bolster his position in Britain’s plans.

The notion of emulating Greg and Jonny Searle and becoming Britain’s Olympic band of medal winning brothers is an enticing one, not least because their performance together at the World Cup in Lucerne last year helped the British boat romp to an impressive victory.

“To win at Lucerne is one of the best things you can do, but to win with your brother, the first time you ever race together, is special,” Richard said.

“Peter’s the one person I’ve got complete trust in. There’s something about being brothers, we won’t let each other down. I’ll fight for him, and him for me.”

Richard though admitted that he is a very different person from his brother.

“We’re two very different people,” he said. “Peter’s laid-back, he takes everything as it comes. I’m a bit of a hothead, if I don’t like something I make my feelings known. We don’t usually have disagreements, it’s normally me losing my rag, and Peter just listens.

“And if I’m beaten on gym tests I get annoyed, however the one person I’d like to beat is Peter.”

The brothers also receive great support from their family, which they are grateful for.

“Mum and dad come to whatever racing they can, and they’re always there to talk to,” Richard said.

“We chat to mum at stressful times: they both have a really clear view of things, and sometimes we need to be told not to worry.

“We don’t have a history of rowing in our family, so I was the first one to start and then Peter.

“I think we both just enjoy our sport. I think it would be fair to say that we were pretty rubbish at most other sports.

“We wouldn’t have been great at football or anything like that. But we seem to have taken to rowing.”

As the elder sibling, it was Richard who beat the path to London 2012. Having left school after GCSEs he always planned to work up to studying construction management at university, which by chance took him to one of rowing’s high performance centres at Oxford Brookes.

“I didn’t know anything about rowing universities except Oxford and Cambridge,” he said. “Only two offered the course I wanted, and one of those also did rowing as well, which was Oxford Brookes. The very first week in the rowing club I realised it was going to be really tough, but I relished the challenge.”

Under the rigorous tutelage of former triple world champion Peter Haining, the assistant coach at Brookes at the time, Richard quickly earned a place at the national trials and duly reached the GB team, with his first world title arriving in 2007, aged 22.

Several world honours have come along since and he was selected for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where they finished fifth, but he is hoping for better this time around on home soil.

“Being our home Olympic Games does make it that little bit more special and to win as the host nation would just be incredible,” said Richard.

“But, at the end of the day, we are approaching it as a 2k stretch of water, just like any other 2k stretch of water. We’ve got to go from A to B as quick as we can and, most importantly, quicker than anyone else. We have got to make sure that we don’t let the hype build up too much and that we keep focussed on what we are trying to achieve.

“We’ve been world champions and we’ve been to an Olympic games before, so in 2012 I am not interested in silver or bronze – gold is the minimum that we are in for. It was an amazing experience to go to an Olympic Games in 2008, but as an athlete I don’t train for anything but first place.”

“The pressure comes from what we expect of ourselves. We’ve trained for four years to win an Olympic gold medal and silver won’t do, we’re only focused on that gold medal.

“We don’t just want to win a medal, the four of us want to become Olympic champions and that’s where the pressure comes from.”