9:51am Thursday 2nd August 2012
By Ruth Mansfield
THE coach of Great Britain’s women rowers who yesterday became the country’s first Olympic gold medallists of 2012 spoke of the “amazing feeling” following their victory.
Robin Williams. 53, formerly of Chepstow, but who now lives in Henley-on-Thames, has coached Helen Glover and Heather Stanning since 2010.
Yesterday, he proudly watched them take the Olympic title in a thrilling final of the women’s pairs at Eton Dorney, in a time of 7:27:13, becoming the first British female rowers to win an Olympic title.
Speaking to the Argus from Eton Dorney yesterday, Mr Williams described the “special”
moment and feeling of “relief” as his two-and-a-half years of work with the pair was rewarded.
He said: “Right now, I’m stood next to the girls with the medals around their necks and it’s a fantastic feeling. It’s two-and-a-half years of hard work, rowing and training. It’s hard to actually believe we’ve done it, but we’re here now and it’s an amazing feeling and a feeling of relief. It’s unbelievable to see them standing there.”
Mr Williams learned to row at Monmouth School and rowed at the University of London Boat Club. He gained his first GB vest in 1981, when he was selected for the Worlds. He was Cambridge University’s rowing coach between 1994 and 2005 and also coached the British lightweight men’s four in Beijing, which he is still involved with now.
Speaking about Glover and Stanning’s race, which saw them win by more than a length, he said: “They were favourites going into the race and there was a lot of pressure, but the atmosphere has been brilliant.”
“When they first started, the strokes looked good and they went up really well. It was all about them rowing.”
“In the second half, they were both in charge. They really got away and now they are Britain’s first gold medallists. It’s very special.”
COMMENT: Golden moments
TEAM GB’s five-day wait for a gold medal ended in some style yesterday.
And we are pleased to say a little bit of gold dust was sprinkled in this direction.
For the coach behind the team which took our first gold started his sporting career right here in Gwent.
He may not have had the starring role on the day, but Robin Williams played a key role by coaching Team GB rowing pair Heather Stanning and Helen Glover to the first British gold of 2012.
The Chepstow coach, who learned to row as a pupil at Monmouth School, said the women performed better than even he had hoped.
They held the lead from start to finish in what was a gruelling race.
That they also made history by being the first female British rowers ever to win an Olympic gold made it a double celebration for the pair, who were followed shortly afterwards by a second rowing medal when the men’s eight took bronze.
The day was capped for many by the blistering display from cycling hero Bradley Wiggins, who managed to top off his Tour de France achievement with an Olympic gold.
So, not a bad day at the office for Team GB. The Olympics has already delivered much in terms of spectacle and excitement.
But in our view, it is getting better day by day.
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