MATT Gotrel admits winning Olympic gold for Team GB in the men’s eights rowing in Rio has not quite sunk in yet.
The Leamington-born rower and his fellow team mates held off stiff competition from rivals Germany at the Lagoa to win Saturday’s race and claim a gold in the event for Great Britain in 16 years, with the Germans taking silver and the Netherlands going home with bronze.
“Oddly enough the race felt easy,” said Gotrel. “It was so good to get out in front and then watch everyone behind us fighting to get back. It feels amazing. I am delighted although it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.”
Gotrel, 27, was part of the Great Britain team also made up of Scott Durant, Tom Ransley, Andrew T Hodge, Pete Reed, Paul Bennett, Matt Langridge, William Satch and Phelan Hill who closed the Rio 2016 rowing events in style.
The GB team had just watched the women’s eights team secure an historical silver medal but the men knew they were in for a tough race as they came up against defending Olympic champions Germany, who also won the same race at the European Championships earlier this year.
GB led the race from the start and the men went one better than the ladies – crossing the finish line in a time of 5:29.63, 1.33 seconds ahead of Germany.
After the race, Gotrel tweeted: “So, we paddled pretty fast today. What a race! Cheers #Rio2106 – proud to be part of this team! #Gold #GBR #TeamGB.”
Gotrel is a former international sailor and competed in the 2006 World Championships in Weymouth but transferred to rowing and made his GB rowing debut at the 2012 European Championships where he helped the men’s eights team finish fifth, just two seconds behind winners Poland.
In 2014 he was selected in the eights team for the World Championships in Amsterdam and helped GB return to the top of the podium with a convincing victory.
The former Loughborough University student won gold again for GB at the 2015 World Championships and was part of the team that also finished runner-up at the European Championships.