Rowbotham targets second rowing medal before saying his farewells
By Western Daily Press | Thursday, August 02, 2012, 09:00
Stephen Rowbotham, right, competes in the men's quadruple sculls with team-mates, left to right, Matt Wells, Tom Solesbury and Charles Cousins PICTURE: STEPHEN POND/PA
Stephen Rowbotham plans to retire from competition after tomorrow's quadruple sculls final – but he wants to add to Great Britain's growing medal haul before he departs.
The 31-year-old, who was born in Swindon, grew up in Winscombe and went to Clifton College, remains on course for a second Olympic medal after finishing third in yesterday's first semi-final.
They will become the first British crew to compete in an Olympic quadruple sculls final when they line up alongside Croatia, Australia, Germany, Estonia and Poland tomorrow – but Rowbotham is not content with merely taking part.
"To get through to the final, it's just relief," he said. "I think the hardest race you will ever do is a semi-final of an Olympic games – because every single country will put in their biggest race.
"Some countries might step back in the final and some countries might step on – and, in Beijing, myself and Matthew (Wells) came third in the semi-final, got lane one and came through for the bronze medal. We all start level down on the start line on Friday – and anything can happen.
"We will be the best-prepared crew come that final – I guarantee it. We'll just see what we can do – it's about having fun. But it will be my last race – I will definitely stop after London and do something more fun! It doesn't get much better than this, though, and we can definitely go and win a medal."
Rowbotham, Wells, Charles Cousins and Tom Solesbury finished strongly after being in fourth position at the halfway stage – and then Great Britain went from strength to strength, with Yeovil-born Heather Stanning and Cornwall's Helen Glover landing the country's first gold medal of the Games in the women's pair and the men's eight taking bronze. And Rowbotham said the lake at Eton Dorney now feels very much as if it is the host country's own water.
"We're getting there – and I told the Aussie coach yesterday that it was our lake," he said. "I don't think he was too happy with that – but it is our home lake and it's our crowd. Today was a lot louder than it was on Saturday for the heat – and I bet you it will be even louder on Friday.
"It's all about the little fine margins – if we can just tweak our race-plan and tweak our technique, it's all about just stepping up for that final. There's a medal to be had out there with that crowd – and I just hope we're on the right side of it."
For Rowbotham personally, he is now just one race away from finishing his career with two Olympic medals – which would not be a bad tally for a man who considered quitting the sport after being overlooked for the 2004 Games in Athens.
"Life pans out that way – with ups and downs – and very few people can say they've always had it plain-sailing," he said. "You take the highs with the lows – and Athens was a very big low in my life. I was very close to stopping and walking away from the sport, but it's about those fine margins – and I got a bronze medal in Beijing and now I'm in an Olympic final at my home Games. It doesn't get much better than that."
Sally Conway, who was born in Bristol and raised in Thornbury, is out of the judo after losing her second-round 70kg fight at ExCeL to the excellent Dutch judoka, Edith Bosch.
The 25-year-old beat Carine Ngarlemdana of Chad in her first fight, registering a full house of scores with a yuko and waza-ari putting her in charge, before a hold-down for ippon.
But Bosch, who has two Olympic medals, four European titles and three world titles, came strong in the final 30 seconds of the second-round fight, going for an inner thigh throw (uchi-mata) to score a waza-ari that left Conway with no time to respond.
Stacey Tadd, of Radstock, swam a time of 2mins 27.18 in her heat but did not qualify for the 200m breaststroke semi-finals.