Evesham prospects catch eye in competition for GB

NATIONAL HONOURS: Liam Tustin and James Mackins rowed for Great Britain.

NATIONAL HONOURS: Liam Tustin and James Mackins rowed for Great Britain.

First published in Sport

TWO Evesham Rowing Club teenagers raced at the highest level for Great Britain in Europe.

James Mackins was a sculler in the Coupe de la Jeunesse at Libourne, France, which was effectively the European Junior Championships.

Fellow Evesham rower Liam Tustin, 18, was at bow in the GB eight at the World Junior Championships in Hamburg, Germany.

Prince Henry's High School pupil Mackins had spent two weeks training at Leander Club, Henley-on-Thames, to hone his preparations.

After the honour of carrying the GB flag at the opening ceremony, Mackins sculled well, winning his first final and coming second in the other.

His coach said he had made massive progress in the last year and fully deserved his first GB vest.

Meanwhile, Tustin's first race with the eight in the world championships was in their heat, where they finished third to the Netherlands and Italy.

They just missed out on automatic selection to the final and went into the repechage, facing European champions France and last year's world silver medallists Serbia.

In a pulsating race, GB, who also included ex-Evesham club member and current Panbourne College scholar Luke Towers, came through in the last 250 metres to pip the Serbs to second place.

They took the last berth in the final by 0.06 seconds as France won the repechage by half-a-length.

Finals day saw a strong crosswind make times slow and the lanes were redrawn, putting GB, as the last qualifiers, in the worst lane.

But they burst out of the starting blocks in determined fashion.

They were in close contention at 500m but by halfway were reeled in by Germany, Netherlands and Italy, who were all on the less windy side of the lake.

The GB boys knew they had a fight on their hands to finish fourth but, with plenty of grit and determination, hung on to their place.

Neil Double, who works at Hampton School, said the eight were one of the toughest, best crews he had coached.

He added: “I was proud of the way the boys gelled and fought for each other."

Tustin is now taking a year out to think through his university options and start to prepare for under 23s rowing.

Former Evesham club rower Flo Pickles capped a memorable season by stroking the girls in the GB worlds quad to a bronze medal.

She joined the GB Start programme at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire, last September and has enjoyed a sparkling year.

Pickles won at the schools' head and Henley Royal Regatta as well as earning three vests for her nation.

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