Tokyo Olympics: Great Britain rowers win silver in men’s quadruple sculls

Harry Leask, Angus Groom, Tom Barras and Jack Beaumont
Great Britain’s sculls crew of Barras, Beaumont, Groom and Leask finished fifth at the European Championships earlier this year
Dates: 23 July-8 August Time in Tokyo: BST +8
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button and online; Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live, Sports Extra and Sounds; live text and video clips on BBC Sport website and app.

Great Britain’s rowers won their first Olympic medal in the men’s quadruple sculls as Harry Leask, Angus Groom, Tom Barras and Jack Beaumont claimed silver in a tight race at Tokyo 2020.

The British crew held off late charges from Australia and Poland, sparking jubilant celebrations on the water.

It was Britain’s first rowing medal at the Sea Forest Waterway in these Games.

However Britain failed to win a sixth straight Olympic gold in the men’s four as they finished fourth.

The Netherlands added Olympic gold to their World Championship title, winning in a world best time.

The Dutch crew clinched victory in five minutes and 32.03 seconds with the British crew 1.72 seconds behind.

“They took a risk and that’s what I was wanting from our crews,” said two-time Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell on BBC television.

“Coming into this they were ranked fifth, they put incredible pressure on their rivals. If you back yourself you can get a result that is not expected.”

Beaumont, 27, was involved in a training accident in Portugal in 2015 that left him fearing he would not walk again. He suffered four fractured vertebrae in his back, two broken ribs and a torn hip flexor muscle.

“I’m so happy,” said Beaumont. “We decided we were in lane one, we had an outside chance of a medal, so to take it to them. We did it.

“It was wild out there, the conditions were rough with a tailwind but it is what we are used to back home.”

Cook apologises as British men’s four dominance ends

The success of Leask, Groom, Barras and Beaumont provided welcome relief for the British team after the nation’s rowers missed out on medals in three other finals on Wednesday.

The biggest disappointment was the end of their dominance in the men’s four.

Ollie Cook, Matt Rossiter, Rory Gibbs and Sholto Carnegie were regarded as the nation’s best hope of a gold medal on a busy day of finals on the water.

They were second going into the final 500m of the 2,000m race but faded and veered off line towards the Italian boat as they laboured.

British crew veer towards Italian rivals in the Olympic men's four
The British crew (in the second bottom lane) veer towards the Italian boat in the Olympic men’s four

“I’m responsible for the steering. I screwed up,” said an emotional Cook, who wiped away tears in the post-race television interview and was consoled by Carnegie.

“I forgot the steering a little bit and that cost us a medal. To the lads, I’m sorry I didn’t steer us the best line at the end.”

All four of the British crew were making their Olympic debuts. Australia took gold, with Romania and Italy also on the podium.

“I never would have predicted those last 300m, nobody would have,” said 2012 gold medallist Dame Katherine Grainger.

“I don’t know the last time I saw [a crew veer off line] at this level. Near the start of the race the British were having problems with steering but at the end it was out of control.”

Ollie Cook (right) is consoled by British team-mate Sholto Carnegie
Cook (right) was in the British squad for four years leading up to Rio 2016 but missed out on selection

In the women’s fours, British crew Rowan McKellar, Hattie Taylor, Karen Bennett and Rebecca Shorten were pipped to bronze as Ireland won their first medal of the Games.

The Irish quartet of Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty timed their push for the line perfectly to finish behind gold medallists Australia and the Netherlands.

British pair Graeme Thomas and John Collins finished fourth in the men’s doubles sculls after being unable to make a late charge for a medal.

“Fourth is just an awful place to finish,” a despondent Thomas said afterwards.

Collins added: “I thought if we got it really right we could finish on top and a medal would be very doable.”

France’s Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias won gold, finishing 0.20 seconds ahead of Melvin Twellaar and Stef Broenink of the Netherlands, with Chinese pair Liu Zhiyu and Zhang Liang taking bronze.

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