Preston rower Graeme Thomas will get a second chance at Olympic glory after earning qualification for next year’s Games.
The 30-year-old – who was taken ill on the eve of the last Olympics and had to fly home – sealed his place in the double sculls event at Tokyo 2020 with a strong showing at the World Championships, in Linz, Austria, last week.
With 10 qualification places up for grabs, Thomas and his partner John Collins showed that they are certainly podium prospects next year by reaching the final and finishing just outside the medals in fourth.
Their campaign in Linz began when they won their heat in a time six minutes and 28 seconds.
Three days later, Thomas and Collins were in action at the quarter-final stage, winning their race in a tight finish with Switzerland. Australia were third.
At the semi-final stage on Friday, the duo knew that a top-three spot would secure a place in the A final and qualification for the Olympics. Their spot in Tokyo was never in doubt as they secured a third-placed finish – a sizeable four seconds in front of fourth-placed Netherlands.
With qualification assured, the pressure was off in the final and the British pair battled valiantly for a medal, but were thwarted in the end as China took gold. Ireland and Poland were second and third respectively.
Pleased with the way he and Collins performed, Thomas said they will be leaving no stone unturned as they look to peak for next year’s Games.
“I get on with John really well and he is tireless in his approach to make the boat go faster,” said Thomas.
“We are really happy to be in this combination and hopefully we can keep on improving.”