British mixed coxed four crowned world champions after dominant performance
The British mixed coxed four’s gold medal-winning margin may have been a remarkable 23 seconds but newly-crowned world champion Grace Clough insists the rest of the world will soon catch up.
Having qualified for the World Championship final in Sarasota with a gap of 21 seconds, Clough – alongside James Fox, Giedrė Rakauskaitė, Ollie Stanhope and cox Anna Corderoy – pulled another stunning performance out of the bag in the race for gold.
Dominating from the very start, the crew made all 2000m – the first major event on the para-rowing calendar to feature the distance – of the race look easy, crossing the line in a time of 6:55.70 - 23.10 seconds ahead of the silver medal-winning USA in second.
The final place on the podium was taken by Italy, who edged bronze from the Ukraine by 2.15 seconds.
Victory ensures a third consecutive world title for Clough, and a fourth for Fox, both of whom formed part of the gold medal-winning mixed coxed four crew at last year’s Paralympic Games in Rio.
And while an overjoyed Clough admits her crew executed their race plan to perfection, she insists they cannot take their dominance for granted.
“We had a race plan and we knew from the heat that it might have been a case of us leading from the start,” she said.
“We approached it as a time trial, doing our own thing, and Anna called it perfectly.
“I’m reigning world and Paralympic champion again, it’s good to have that for another year!” Grace Clough
“We were just trying to go for the fastest time we possibly could. We had a target and it was just fantastic.
“There was a lot of training that went behind that. That’s the standard and we know the rest of the world will move on.
“We set that standard each cycle and we know the rest are going to catch up.
“We know how hard it was for us to get that, but we know that we need to do that again and again each year to remain at the top.”
It had been a rocky road to Florida for the boat, with the crew only put together mere weeks prior to the start of the World Championships.
But Clough praised the way in which they had overcome the challenge, with the 26-year-old delighted to add another gold medal to her collection.
“Because we came together so late as a boat, we didn’t have any time to not gel,” she said.
“We all got on with it – it’s been different, but it has worked, and it’s been a fantastic experience.
“I’m reigning world and Paralympic champion again, it’s good to have that for another year!”
Photo: Naomi Baker