Parents pride as brothers bid for Olympic success

Peter and Richard Chambers speak to the press ahead of the games.'Photo-William Cherry/Presseye
Peter and Richard Chambers speak to the press ahead of the games.'Photo-William Cherry/Presseye

THE smile on Eric and Gillian Chambers’ face whne sons Richard and Peter take to the water at Eton Dorney will be as wide as the River Bann.

The proud parents praised their sons for the hard work and dedication shown and the sacrifices they have made to leave them on the cusp of Olympic glory.

“We had always believed that they would row together, we just didn’t think it would come this year,” Gillian told Times Sport.

“It is amazing how Peter has got to this stage...there has been so much hard work and effort put in.

“It reflects their honesty and dedication to their sport

“There’s no doubt about it Peter has been really inspired by his brother and in particular his work ethic. He came out with us to Beijing four years ago to watch Richard compete and that really made a big impression on could see it inspired him.

“I remember Richard pulled him aside after the race and had a chat with him, I don’t know what was said between them but I do know it set Peter off on the road to London.

“They are one of only four sets of siblings in the whole of Team GB which is really special for is definitely something they wll take a lot of pride from in later years.

“His brother has certainly been a big influence on him, along with a lot of other people, particularly those at Bann Rowing Club.

“The coaches then and now have played an enormous part in helping them achieve their goal.”

Dad Eric agreed: “It is incredible to have them on the same boat. They have both worked so hard to get here. Richard has helped Peter, who has been so focused to get here. He has come on leaps and bounds, the step up has been massive but he has met that.

“It has taken a lot of dedication and hard work for them to get where they are. They have made a lot of sacrifices, particularly in their social life as they are up so early and go to bed early because of heir training regimes, but it is something they are more than willing to do because they love their sport.”

“It has been particularly tough on Richard as he’s had to spend a lot of time away from his wife and wee son over the last while,” added mum.

So where did this journey to London begin?

“Peter first got involved in rowing during his first year at North Coast Integrated College,” explained Eric. “They did rowing for a couple of years at the school and then he joined Bann. He started out as cox for the veteran 8, but he grew tall very quickly.

“Richard first started rowing in his third year at Coleraine Inst. When he left in fifth year he came down to Bann where he and Stephen Feeney were coached by Simon Hamilton. He saw that they had a bit of talent and they quickly came through the ranks progressing into the Irish squads and started to taste success.

“Then came the big decision for him as to where he was going to go to university and Oxford Brookes helped him dovetail both the rowing and his degree under the coaching of Peter Haining, who himself was a lightweight rower who competed at the Olympics in 1992 and 1996.

“So he was very inspirational for Richard and his enthusiasm was great for him. Richard actually started out at uni rowing as a lightweight in a heavyweight but, but it was a great experience for him.”

The brothers at the latest to roll of the Bann Rowing Club production line and end up at the Olympics. Another old boy, Dan Taylor competed for Ireland at the 1948 Olympics in London and the club is continuing to go from strength to strength.

“When you look at what Bann Rowing Club has achieved it really is exceptional,” said Gillian. “There are so many rowers who have come through and more to come through it is such an incredible achievement especially given the size of the town. All the coaches deserve so much praise for everything they have done...I can’t speak highly enough about them.”

“When Richard first went down to Bann there was a very small junior section, that was one of the reasons why Peter started off sculling, ultimately though that has given him an advantage, but since then the club has just grown and grown,” continued Eric.

“It is amazing to think that there will be three rowers competing ta these games from the one town and indeed from the one rowing club. We will be at all Alan’s races too to cheer him on. I really hope he can get a medal this time as he is a great guy who has also worked so hard to get where he is today.”

So how are the nerves going to hold up for race day?

“It is getting very exciting now - it is building all the time,” said dad. “Once they get out on to that lake the heart will flutter when we see them I’m sure.

“There is a lot of expectation on Team GB because it is a home Olympics. And there is a lot of expectation on the rowing team to win medals so the pressure is definitely on, but the boys just have to focus on each race.

“Once they go out onto the water they can’t afford to be thinking about aything else other than the job they have to do.”

Mum knows it is going to be a very tough battle. “It is going to be a very tight race,” said Gillian. “You just couldn’t call it as there are so many quality boats in the lightweight division.

“I’d love to be sitting here confidently predicting they wil come away with a medal, but it is just going to be so tight. The main thing is that they don’t come away with any regrets.

“They don’t train for anything less than to be successful and win things. I just hope they really enjoy the whole experience. Having spoken with them recently I know they enjoyed the training camps, even though it was really tough, and the whole build up has been really special.

“The boys know there will be a big support cheering them on from back home

“It is absolutely fantastic how everyone has embraced it and I know the guys really appreciate, they are very proud of their Coleraine roots. We are all members of the Baptist Church and they have decided to show the final live on the big screen. The boys grew up in that church and I know this means a lot to them.”