Rowing: Lee Valley VeloPark hosts successful British Indoor Championships
PUBLISHED: 08:00 14 December 2016
Crowds descend on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for high-quality event
Lee Valley VeloPark played host to this year’s British Rowing Indoor Championships and saw a plethora of top displays, including a successful return after a serious back injury from Adam Neill, who won the men’s open 2k race.
Neill spent three years on the sidelines, but successfully completed his rehabilitation and has got back to top form, missing out on a 2k personal best in Stratford by just half a second.
He clocked a five minutes 46 seconds to take the gold medal, with Moe Sbihi‘s year-old British record looking under threat for a time during the race.
“It’s quite a nerve-racking environment. I think it’s really good practice for racing under pressure,” said Neill.
“It’s all well and good performing well in training, but it’s all about being able to do it on the day, and this place is great for that.
“I was about half a second off a PB, so I’m pretty happy with that at this time of the year.
“All our racing is the end of next summer so I’m happy to be in good shape and put in a solid performance.”
In the women’s open classification, Emily Carmichael held off a strong challenge from Rebecca Girling and Rebecca Chin to retain the title she won last year.
Carmichael stopped the clock at 6.451 to win by over two seconds from Girling.
“It’s an incredible feeling to be champion in an great atmosphere,” said Carmichael.
“It’s an amazing event to do – we never really experience having an audience so close. It’s a great way to break up our winter training.
“This atmosphere makes you feel a little bit more alive and gives you that extra bit of spark. It really helps having the crowd there for you every step of the way.”
Other notable performances saw Hartpury College’s Scott Jones break the para-rowing A/S 1km world record, smashing his personal best with a time of 3.47.
GB’s Zak Lee-Green took a close-fought lightweight men’s crown, Nottingham Trent student Matt Haywood dominated the men’s U23 race and Jessica Leydon put in an equally strong performance to take the women’s U23 crown.
The crowds stuck around to see the day’s penultimate race, in which Sbihi’s GB relay team beat another GB squad led by Will Satch in the men’s relay.
The big race saw teams of four taking turns on the rowing machine to row 4km, with some hasty changeovers making for exciting racing.
It looked as though outsiders Team Nutrifix would row away with an historic win, leading both GB crews by 50m through the halfway mark, but the elite squads held their nerve until the end and were only separated by a second.
“That’s bragging rights for us four boys,” Sbihi said of his teammates, Matthew Tarrant, Pete Lambert and Alan Sinclair.
“Nutrifix stormed off so quickly, but when they blew we reeled them in. We had a few bad changeovers, but that’s where it’s won or lost.
“The MAD team beside us were quicker, but had a really bad changeover and that knocked them back.
“In the relay you’ve got to smash it as hard as you can for a short amount of strokes and then perfect the changeover without losing any speed.
“In training we’ve been awful, but we somehow managed to pull it out of the bag.”
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