THE Evesham-based rowing centre where Olympians Alex Gregory and Zac Purchase took their first steps towards success are celebrating the pair’s medal glory.
About 80 people gathered at Evesham Rowing Club on Saturday to watch the two athletes compete and bring home a gold and silver medal respectively.
Alex was cheered on to gold in the coxless fours and two of his former Evesham coaches, Keith Rafter and Dave Perry, even made it to the final at Eton Dorney where they cheered him on from the stands.
Retiring Evesham rowing captain Mark Dewdney said everyone at the club was very proud.
“We were ecstatic,” he said.
“One gold and one silver from a local rowing club in Worcestershire is pretty good going.”
“Alex started in 2000. He was with us for about two to three years and was a natural.
Within about a year to 18 months of him starting rowing we entered a quadruple sculls in the Hanley Royal Regatta. Alex was in that boat and while they didn’t win, you could see the quality of his rowing.”
After his winning performance, the 28-year-old said his overriding emotion was relief. He 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.
“We had a lot of strong guidance from coach Jurgen [Grobler] but making it come together was a very special thing.”
While the club take credit for Alex, Zac, who won silver in the lightweight men’s double scull final, started his career at Upton Rowing Club. Mr Dewdney said: “He came to Evesham to do his first serious rowing because he had no one to team up with and we had a lot of good rowers.
“He was with us for a year to 18 months. The club has done very well, every year since 2000 we have had someone representing us in the Olympics.
“We are now expecting an influx of people wanting to join the club as we saw after Beijing.”
For more information on the club, call 01386 446131.
Alex’s victory alongside team members Pete Reed, Tom James and Andrew Higgs Hodge is to be marked with a new gold medal stamp.
To buy a book of special edition stamps log on to postoffice.co.uk.