Bronze in Bled

Last Updated: 06/10/11 8:43am

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Williams: World Championship bronze

Williams: World Championship bronze

The World Rowing Championships in Bled have just finished, where I raced in the lightweight mens four, alongside Richard Chambers, Chris Bartley and Paul Mattick. I now find myself with a bronze medal in my pocket and in a reflective mood.

Our boat came into the World Championships with two aims; firstly, to qualify the boat for the London Olympics and, secondly, to retain our World Champions title from 2010. As you can tell from the bronze medal, we had mixed results.

The first and ultimately most important aim was to qualify the boat for the Olympics. To achieve this, we had to finish in the top 11 boats.

Realistically this wasn't, and should never have been, an issue, but it isn't something that you can take for granted. Our event is incredibly tight and while most of the 24 entries weren't likely to medal, almost all had the ability to qualify.

Just to compete at the Olympics is an amazing motivator and the extra speed that some crews found to push for those qualification spots was breath-taking.

Times

A great example of this was the B-final in our event, where all but the last placed crew qualified for the Olympics. The race had a 1.5 second spread from first to last.

The South Africans, who finished second last, earned the last qualifying spot and the right to race at the Olympics. Their celebrations were louder than the Australians when they won the World Championships.

Watching the other crews was inspirational and yet didn't help that nervous voice in the back of your head. It seemed crazy that we entered the event as favorites, were World Champions and yet I was worried that we might come twelfth.

Thankfully, progress to the final was smooth. We won our heat, won the semi in the quickest time and were well set for the final. Once through the semi, the worst we could finish was sixth, so the pressure of Olympic qualification was gone.

In the final we got off to a poor start and found ourselves last at 500m, we eventually started rowing well together and moving back through the field, but by then the damage was done. We came third, losing the title to a slick Australian crew, someone we'd beaten in the semi.

Disappointed

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed, we train and race to win. Our crew has won a lot in the past and certainly at that Championships had the potential to win again.

Having said that, we got a World Championship medal in a very tight event and that is something I'm deeply proud of. The boat is qualified for the Olympics and Great Britain will have another chance to win the lightweight four, but this time at our home Olympics.

We now have three weeks off before training starts for London 2012. I would love to say this time will be spent relaxing but instead my PhD thesis must be in before we start back.

Once in, I will have no academic stress and all my attention will be focused on winning that British Gold medal at London 2012.

Rob Williams is part of the GB Rowing Team which is Siemens-sponsored and backed by lottery funding

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