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Gregory: we had guts to win gold
10:11am Thursday 9th August 2012 in Sport
ALEX Gregory believes Great Britain showed they had the minerals when it mattered as he helped keep a ferocious Australian challenge at bay to capture his first ever Olympic gold medal at London 2012.
Gregory, along with Tom James, Pete Reed and Andy Triggs Hodge, sparked the Games gold rush on Saturday which, after contributions from Jess Ennis and Mo Farah, ended as Great Britain’s most successful day in Olympic history for 104 years.
But compared to former Evesham Rowing Club star Gregory and co, Ennis and Farah had it easy. Gregory and James were in the men’s four boat that won world gold last year and since then Reed and Triggs Hodge have returned to bolster the squad. That meant Gregory was the only member of the quartet that didn’t win gold in Beijing – which brings its own pressures.
Add the fact that the Aussies have been mounting a considerable charge and beat the Brits at the World Cup in Munich last month, it’s unsurprising Gregory’s first reaction was not one of jubilation.
“Relief. Massive relief,” the 28-year-old said. “It didn’t feel real. Going off the start, I just thought, ‘oh my God, this is happening’.
“What we did took guts. We knew we had to get up for the big race. It wasn’t just the Australians in the final, we knew the other crews were there or thereabouts.
“We had a lot of strong guidance from coach Jurgen (Grobler) but making it come together was a very special thing. We were thinking about our midrace pace form the beginning.”
Making the victory all the more satisfying is the fact that the Australians weren’t shy in putting the pressure on the Brits verbally as well as physically.
“It takes courage from all four and we had a simple idea that the first stroke counts,” Gregory added. “We were ahead at the 500 (metres) which was unusual. I was so confident we could hold on.”