Preston rower Graeme Thomas is determined to get his Olympic season off to a flying start by finally getting his hands on an elusive European Championships gold medal this weekend.
Twenty-seven-year-old Thoma has won silver and bronze in the GB Rowing Team men’s quadruple scull at the last two continental competitions but is keen to make it third time lucky in Brandenburg, Germany.
However, he knows it will not be easy against a field that contains several rivals for gold, not only at this event but also this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.
“Seven of the eight qualified boats for Rio are European so that really shows the depth that we have in Europe,” said Thomas, a former rugby union player who took up rowing after successful trials for the GB Rowing Team Start talent development programme at Agecroft RC in Salford.
“The championships will be a real indicator as to what the standard will be at the Olympic Games.
“It’s a big challenge but we are really excited at the prospect of putting down a good performance at the start of the season.”
Thomas is keen to finally claim gold this weekend after going so close over the past couple of years.
In 2014, he was part of the team which was agonisingly pipped on the line by Ukraine in Belgrade, Serbia.
Last season in Poznan, Poland, Thomas and his team-mates once again finished behind Ukraine and were beaten to the silver medal spot by Germany.
He said: “A European Championship win has escaped me now for a couple of seasons.
“We’ve had a silver and a bronze, so it would be really nice to finally become a European champion.”.
The former Corpus Christi Catholic High School pupil has been selected in the quad for a fourth successive season, alongside Sam Townsend and Peter Lambert.
An injury to the fourth regular member of the crew during this Olympiad, Charles Cousins, has opened the door for Angus Groom, who showed his potential by helping Thomas, Townsend and Lambert to World Cup gold in Varese last year.
“Angus did a cracking job last summer – we won gold, so you can’t ask much more than that,” said Thomas.
“I’m expecting more of the same from him.
“He’s shown with his performances in trials over the winter that he’s a tough guy.
“I expect him to do a job and I know he’ll do it, so it’s business as usual from that point of view.
“We got on well outside the boat as a group and we know how each other work in it.
“That stops any disagreements getting out of control and we really move things on in a positive way. It’s been really good working together.”
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