WYE rowing star Morgan Baynham-Williams steered the GB women’s eight to sterling silver at the multi-sport European Championships in Munich and said they couldn’t have done any more to hold off Romania’s explosive finish into a hammering headwind.
The Ross Rowing Club cox pushed her crew into the lead in mid-race and they were still in front just 30 strokes from the line.
But the Romanians, anchored by pairs gold medallists Ancuta Bodnar and Simona Radis, stormed through to take the gold in a repeat of Thursday’s heat, with GB containing the European champion four, second and the Netherlands in bronze.
Morgan, who already has several World U23 and Henley Royal Regatta medals in her trophy cabinet and steered the Oxford Women’s 8 to Boat race victory in 2016, believes there are significant positives to take after a memorable few days in Germany.
She told Eurosport: “We executed our race plan and really built on Thursday’s heat.
“Overall, we’re really happy with that and couldn’t have done anything more, so I’m really chuffed.
“We knew that we had some stuff to build on from Thursday - we just had to keep that speed we had moving into the middle 1000m, and I actually thought we built better in the final 500m today.
“We built together, definitely stepped it up and left it all out on the track.”
Crew mate Heidi Long added: “I don’t know exactly what happened in the race, but it feels it was a similar pattern to what happened in the heat.
“We were a bit slow off the start, but then built our rhythm and then found a real solid pace in the middle of the race.
“We gave it our best and think we stepped on from our heat. Not quite enough but the Romanians had a great race.”
The GB rowing team were savaged by the media for only winning a silver and bronze in Tokyo, with six crews finishing fourth.
But a successful 2022 World Cup series followed by the Europeans, where they topped the medal table with six gold medals, three silvers and a bronze, shows they are firmly back on track.
Italy took the early lead in the women’s 8s final, but Romania had the highest stroke rate, at 43 strokes per minute.
The Netherlands then moved to the front of the field with GB going with them, with the Dutch fractionally in front at 500m.
With Morgan calling the shots, GB then squeezed ahead of the Dutch, with the Romanians now trying to latch on to the British speed.
GB had 3/4L on the east Europeans in second at half-way and held that through the 1500m mark.
But Romania had the higher rating in the closing stages, and GB couldn’t quite hold them off finishing 1/2L back in 6mins 28.02secs.
Silver for Morgan comes just a week after fellow Ross product Ella Bardsley-Taylor took double bronze for GB in the girls’ quadruple sculls at the Coupe de Jeunesse 15-nation junior team regatta in Spain, with the Brits winning the overall title.
The season isn’t over yet for Morgan, though, with the World Championships still to come in five weeks time in the Czech Republic.