Array of glory for Cambridge University Blues at the Rowing World Cup in the Netherlands
Imogen Grant struck Rowing World Cup gold for the first time in a medal-laden weekend in the Netherlands for Cambridge University Blues.
The 23-year-old’s first place in the lightweight single sculls was followed by a gold medal in the men’s eight for cox Henry Fieldman and a bronze for Holly Hill.
Grant, a member of Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club who is based at Bar Hill, was racing in the single scull for the first time this season, having previously been in the double.
After a start-to-finish lead in the semi-finals in Rotterdam, it was a case of digging deeper in the final against a fierce challenge from Australia’s Georgia Nesbitt and Germany’s Marie-Louise Draeger.
With 500m remaining, Grant made her move to take gold by almost two seconds in 8min 43.59, ahead of Nesbitt. Draeger was third.
“It was a long race!” said Grant. “I knew that I was in form to win it; I was a bit worried in the middle part when the other rowers started pulling away but thankfully I had the chance to pull something out of the bag in the second half.
“This is my first ever World Cup medal, so winning gold is really special.”
British Rowing director of performance Brendan Purcell said: “It’s fantastic to have achieved our first gold medal. In her first time racing in the single this season, Imogen put in a strong performance in tough conditions.”
Former Cambridge University Boat Club cox Fieldman helped inflict a first defeat on Germany in more than a year in the men’s eight.
The crew of Tom Ford, James Rudkin, Tom George, Mohamed Sbihi, Jacob Dawson, Ollie Wynne-Griffith, Mat Tarrant and Josh Bugajski won their first gold medal since the Rio 2016 Olympics, moving clear at halfway and increased their lead through the second kilometre.
Two-time Olympic medallist Sbihi said: “All weekend we rowed confidently and rowed really well and it feels so good to get the win.
“It seems like forever since I’ve won on the international stage. Sometimes you think it’s never going to happen again so days like today are very, very rewarding."
Hill, a member of CUWBC, and Polly Swann were racing in their first competition as a pair, and they claimed the bronze medal.
Australia’s Jessica Morrison and Annabelle McIntyre won in 7.26.15, with New Zealand’s Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler second in 7.27.57. Hill and Swann clocked 7.40.51 for third.
Hill paid tribute to her team-mate, saying: “Polly kept me calm through the middle of the race. She said ‘we can do this’ and I really believed her.
“That was one of my favourite races so far, it was so much fun, we got into a really good rhythm and came up with the goods. Absolutely buzzing.”
Swann added: “We were a bit down at the start, so I had to give a pep talk to Holly to make her believe that we could do it.I just felt that everyone around us was overworking, so we just dug deep and moved through them.”
On the overall weekend, Purcell said: “We had 11 boats in 10 A finals and we came away with four medals and two fourth
place finishes. Polly and Holly put in an outstanding performance and it’s great to see the women’s pair back on the podium.
“The fantastic result in the men’s eight was a big statement of intent challenging the Germans and winning by nearly a length. It’s important for the guys in the crew but also for the whole team to see what can be achieved."