OXFORD cox Lily van den Broecke was “ecstatic” with joy after steering Great Britain to gold at Eton Dorney. The 20-year-old, from Headington, guided the legs, trunks and arms (LTA) mixed four to a thrilling victory over Germany yesterday.
Germany got off to a flying but with van den Broecke urging on her crew of Pamela Relph, Naomi Riches, David Smith and James Roe, the GB boat responded superbly and took the lead around halfway. The Germans applied pressure at the end, but van den Broecke’s four held on to win by half a length in 3mins 19.38 secs. The former Headington School said she was “ecstatic” after the victory, before adding: “It was an experience which will never be repeated in my life time. It was so inspiring. I wasn’t expecting it to be so emotional.”
The British crew had won gold at the World Championships in Bled 12 months ago, and again in this year’s World Cup at Munich, but had been seven seconds slower that Germany in Friday’s heat.
In the warm-up GB suffered an equipment problem when their speed coach, which shows stroke rate, fell in the water. Van den Broecke played this down, saying that the crew had coped well and it was not significant. She said, “I can’t believe how proud I am of this crew for keeping everything together. This is two years’ work and it’s incredible.”
Lily said: “Our race plan was not to change anything because of how Germany had done in the heat, but to look for a solid start, to stay loose and to dig deep in the second half of the race. The Germans led for 400 metres, but we came back at them”.
With favourite Tom Agger only able to finish fourth in the single scull, the mixed four’s success was Britain’s only rowing medal.
In an amazing atmosphere, van den Broecke said she felt a bit redundant towards the end as the roars of the crowd were keeping the crew going without any help from her. “With all the noise, they would never have heard me anyway,” she added.
The gold medal saw van den Broecke go out in a blaze of glory as it marked the end of her involvement with paralympic rowing due to it not being compatible with being a full-time student at Durham.
However, if circumstances permit she added that she would love to have a go at coxing in the GB non-disabled rowing squad in the future.