WYE Valley teenager Violet Holbrow-Brooksbank powered to a superb silver medal at the World Rowing U19 Championships on the Paris Olympic lake on Saturday.
The 17-year-old Ross Rowing Junior Academy graduate and her GB girls’ coxless four led through the middle of the race, but just missed out on gold to the fast-finishing Italian crew.
Violet, who rowed for Monmouth Comprehensive Boat Club and Wales juniors last year, has enjoyed a stellar season alongside fellow Ross RC oarswoman Yasmin Howe as part of the Wycliffe squad near Gloucester, helping them win the Championship girls’ eights at the national Schools’ Head of the River in London in March, titles at the UK Junior Sculling Head and Regatta, and junior quadruple sculls at the prestigious Henley Women’s Regatta in June.
While Yasmin, 18, took silver and bronze on successive days in the GB girls’ quadruple scull at the Coupe de la Jeunesse European team regatta in Amsterdam the previous week, Violet swapped two blades for one in Paris, after securing the three seat in the GB U19s world championship four.
Along with Henley RC’s Rhiannon Luke, daughter of Olympic medallist Miriam Luke, Hinksey Sculling School’s Martha Shepherd and Surbiton High School’s Madeliene Greenstock, their crew won their heat by two lengths from Australia in second to qualify directly for the six-boat final.
They knew it would be tough in the final though, with other heat winners Italy and second-placed Romania going slightly faster.
Romania then proved the early pacesetters in the six-boat medal race, before the Brits squeezed through to lead at half-way, which inched out to a 1/4L lead over the eastern Europeans with 500m to race.
But it was Italy who came storming through with a powerful late surge to snatch gold on the line by a canvas from the Brits, with Romania another 1/3L back in bronze, followed by Germany, Switzerland and France.
GB won six medals, three gold, two silver and a bronze, topping the U19 medal table for the first time ever (tied with Italy). They picked up golds in the women’s and men’s eight and the women’s double scull, plus another silver in the men’s quadruple scull and bronze in the women’s quad scull.
The women’s eights was one of the most exciting races of the regatta with four boats clocking times just 0.24 seconds apart and GB taking gold by inches from Germany, Romania and the United States.
Violet follows fellow Ross RC member Morgan Baynham-Williams to recent global honours, who steered the Great Britain women’s U23 eight and Paralympic champion four to world medal glory.