PRESTON rower Graeme Thomas is targeting double glory when he takes to the water at rowing’s World Championships in September.
Thomas, 26, has been named in the Great Britain men’s quadruple scull team for the event in Aiguebelette, France.
The World Championships double up this year as a qualification regatta for the 2016 Olympics.
As as well as setting their sights on a gold medal, Thomas and his team-mates Sam Townsend, Charles Cousins and Peter Lambert, are chasing a trip to Rio.
This will be the third time which the quartet have rowed together in the World Championships and there has been a pattern of improvement.
In 2013 they won bronze and, last year, came away with silver medals – but only after Ukraine pipped them to gold by 0.09 seconds.
So being the first boat to cross the line at Aiguebelette is a burning desire.
Thomas told the Evening Post: “This is the same crew which has represented Great Britain in the quadruple scull for the last two years.
“To take gold at the World Championships and to qualify for the Olympics would be brilliant.
“Last year we missed out on gold by 0.09 seconds, which was hardly anything.
“In 2013 we were really pleased with our bronze but taking silver last summer was a disappointment because of how close we were.
“To qualify for the Olympics you have to be in the top seven. So I think the other nations are really going to push it and that will make the race even tougher than normal.
“Aiguebelette is a venue we are familiar with because we had a World Cup event there last year.
“It is a spectacular course with turquoise water and a background of alpine hills.”
Thomas, who was brought up in Fulwood and attended Corpus Christi High School, took up rowing while a student at Manchester University.
Training at this level of the sport is tough throughout the year and will get tougher over the coming weeks.
“On Friday we leave for an altitude training camp in the Austrian Alps,” said Thomas.
“There is a dammed lake up in the mountains where we train and to be honest, the weather is miserable up there – it is like being in December.
“We then go to Portugal for some warm-weather training, which is about building-up our speed and getting race ready.
“From now on, we will be training seven days a week.
“Usually we train six days a week, getting up at 6.30am for a two-hour weights sessions at Bisham Abbey.
“Later in the morning we are on the water for an hour and 20 minutes and then it is back in the boat a second time in the afternoon.
“I live in Henley because it is near where we are based but I get back to Preston whenever I can to see my family.”