Coxless Four silence the tough-talking Australians in Olympic final
DOUBLE Olympic champion Pete Reed acknowledged the support of the Eton-Dorney crowds in successfully defending the title in the Men’s Coxless Four, graphically describing the experience as ‘like rowing in a Coliseum’.
Reed, a Royal Navy lieutenant and former Cirencester Deer Park student, joined two of his partners in the winning Beijing boat of 2008 – Andrew Triggs Hodge and Tom James – along with ‘new boy’ Alex Gregory from Wormington in Gloucestershire, to extend Britain's dominance over the Olympic event to 16 years.
The quarter-length win over the tough talking Australians gave Britain their fourth successive Coxless Fours gold. The United States won the bronze.
Reed, from Nailsworth, said: “The support has been incredible. Even before the competition we were cheered every morning coming down for our training sessions, just carrying our bags and with our headphones on.”
And as for the experience of racing at Eton-Dorney, Reed said: “It was like rowing in a Coliseum. You could feel the crowd before you could see them. They were able to lift you when you felt like dying.”
Reed, Hodge and James are double Olympic champions while Games debutant Gregory won gold as part of a different men’s four crew at last year’s world championship.
Hodge and Reed moved into the pair after Beijing and spent three years trying, and failing, to overhaul the dominant New Zealand crew of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray.
At the start of 2012, they moved back into Britain's flagship boat – but it did not click immediately.
James reflected: “For the first two or three weeks together it was pretty horrendous.”
But they opened the season promisingly with World Cup victories in Belgrade and Lucerne before principal rivals Australia hit back in Munich to take gold, leading from the front and claiming they had ‘scared the hell’ out of Great Britain.
Reed said: “They (the Aussies) talk a good game but we did our talking on the water.”
That was certainly the case as they led from the outset in what was, given the pre-race build-up, a rather anti-climatic final.
Britain were at least ‘a canvas’ clear throughout and the Aussie charge never materialised.
The victory extended the remarkable record of chief men's coach Jürgen Grobler, who has now prepared gold medal-winning crews at nine Olympic Games.
Grobler joined GB Rowing in 1991 and he has never failed to deliver an Olympic gold medal.
Team GB ended the 2012 Olympic regatta with four golds, two silvers and three bronzes – a best ever performance.
Twenty eight rowers in nine boat classes have won medals and all 47 rowers reached the Olympic finals in front of record crowds at Eton-Dorney.
GB Rowing Team Performance Director David Tanner said: “I’m proud of our 13 A-finalist boats, but the thrill has been our medals. Every boat has fought so hard.
“I give absolute credit to our rowers, our coaching staff and team support. We are a team and we work as a team. Together we have been so strong and so much stronger than any other nation which is a source of great pride and pleasure.”
So what of Rio in four years’ time. Gregory, a Leander Club team-mate of Reed’s, and Triggs Hodge seemed positive about the prospect. Gregory said: “I think I have got a few more years in me.”
James was more circumspect saying: “I don't know. I think that’s a pretty awesome race to finish on, if I do finish. Never say never, but you are not going to beat that.”
Reed, who celebrated his 31st birthday on the day of the opening ceremony in London, seemed keen to plan for Rio in 2016 – as long as his bosses at the Royal Navy prove accommodating.
“I'm keen. I love it. I love my sport and training. It is all worth it,” he said.
“I've got my employer, the Royal Navy (to think about). I have got to have a good honest conversation with them but I hope I have made them proud and hope we can carry on.”