Bartley becomes first Wales competitor on podium at London 2012
3:57pm Thursday 2nd August 2012 in Olympics in Wales
CHRIS Bartley collapsed with exhaustion after missing out on Olympic gold by the width of his rowing oar – but becoming the first Welsh athlete onto the London 2012 podium proved the perfect remedy.
But fellow Welsh rower Victoria Thornley’s Olympic campaign ended in tears as she and the rest of Great Britain’s eight came home fifth in today’s final – but she insisted she leaves the Games with her head held high.
Bartley, Rob Williams and Richard and Peter Chambers produced a momentous finish in the men’s lightweight four at Eton Dorney – roaring down the final 500m and roared on by a 30,000-strong crowd – but while they caught early pace-setters Denmark, South Africa crept up on the blindside to take gold.
Perhaps the Brits started marginally too slowly, but they were not aided by their draw in lane three – the crosswind favoured those in lanes four to six – and produced a lung-busting finish that drove Bartley to the brink.
The lightweight four is among the most competitive of disciplines in world rowing at present – the Brits won gold, silver and bronze at the three World Cups this season – and the winning margin was always going to be miniscule.
And while Bartley admitted his silver medal was slightly tinged with the disappointment of just missing gold, he revealed his delight at making the Welsh Dragon roar at London 2012.
“It feels nice to be the first Welsh athlete to win a medal at London 2012. I wasn’t really with it when I was on the medal podium but I saw my parents and my dad had a Welsh flag,” said 28-year-old Bartley. “I was sick a number of times after the race, it was so awful but to have a silver is pretty cool and I am proud of my performance. “The support has been amazing. I don’t really remember much of the last stages of the race, I couldn’t hear anything that was going on. I was so determined to get a medal. It has taken a lot of strokes and a lot of hours in the boat to get here. “I don’t really remember the last 500m I was just pleased to be on the podium at the end.
“We would have liked to have gone one better and won gold, of course.
“I didn’t really feel that much emotion other than the fact that I felt sick and had a banging headache to be honest.
“It is my first Games and maybe not my last but it has been a long old road,” added the 2010 world champion.”
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