Posted: September 4, 2017
Three rowers from Scotland won medals as part of a successful Great Britain team competing in the inaugural European Rowing Under 23 Championships in Kruszwica, Poland today.
Graham Ord (Hamilton/Edinburgh Uni) and Oliver Wilkes (Matlock/Edinburgh Uni) helped deliver silver for the men’s eight whilst Fiona Bell (Kilmacolm/Aberdeen Uni) won bronze as part of the women’s eight.
Romania took an early lead in the men’s eight final on GB who fought hard to claw back whilst successfully holding off an attack from France in the latter stages.
“We knew the Romanian eight was strong and they ended up winning but we were in contact with them at the finish which is good in itself,” said Wilkes.
“France pushed us the whole way to the line and at the point with 200m to go they were going to come back through us. But we managed to pull out just enough to keep them away and we had them by 0.3 of a second at the end.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect but it’s amazing to win silver with a great bunch of guys.”
Whilst today’s was the season’s second international medal for Wilkes, who won silver as part of GB’s coxed four at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships, it was the first for Graham Ord and a fine way to finish his under 23 career.
“We were all hopeful of a medal which is the nature of competition,” said Ord. “We knew from the race for lanes yesterday that there was one there for us and we just needed to execute our plan and have a crack at the gold.
“It was a really good race today and we gave it our all to try and beat the Romanians and managed to hold on for dear life against the French at the end to win silver.
“This is my first medal at international level so it has to be my best result yet. And it’s a great confidence boost as I move up to senior level next season.”
Former Aberdeen University student, Fiona Bell won bronze in the women’s eight, marking a great end to her own under 23 career and her first year competing in a Great Britain team.
“We knew we wanted to medal and obviously you are going for gold whenever that’s in contention, but to end with a bronze is good and it was a very tight race,” said Bell.
“We are all ecstatic to be up there and on the podium and it does make your summer pay off once you’ve got that medal.”
Bell had competed in last month’s World Rowing Under 23 Championships. On that occasion her women’s eight had finished sixth in the final, with Russia taking gold by a good margin.
Russia won again today, with Romania taking silver, but Britain had reduced the gap between themselves and the gold medallists to 3.58 seconds.
“It’s was the same Russian crew from the under 23 Worlds,” continues Bell. “So to be up there and almost in contention with them was a good surprise for us in comparison to our Worlds race.
“We are a different crew and I think we have done very well to be up there with them which shows we have stepped on since Worlds.
“This was my last race as an under 23 so it was good to end the season with a medal.”
Bell now takes a week’s break before commencing winter training to prepare for the first round of GB trials in November. This time around she will do it from Belfast where she begins a medical degree this autumn.
“It’s a new university and a new degree but I won’t forget my time in Aberdeen,” she added. “I’ve learnt so much from university and this summer that I will be able to carry through hopefully when I start my senior career.”
Said Scottish Rowing’s Head of Performance Pathway, Lee Boucher: “I am delighted to see three Scottish based rowers picking up medals at an international regatta.
“This new event in the calendar has offered these young athletes the opportunity to gain some quality race experience against some strong rowing nations and will serve them well as their rowing careers continue to develop."