ROWER Tom Ford played his part in a classic European final as Great Britain won gold in the men’s eight by a hair’s breadth.

Ford, a former student of The Grange School who hails from Holmes Chapel, combined with Morgan Bolding, Jacob Dawson, Rory Gibbs, Charlie Elwes, Sholto Carnegie, James Rudkin, Tom Digby and coxswain Henry Fieldman for a stunning victory.

The British boat came in as resounding favourites having won world and European titles last year and dominated the final from the front at Lake Bled, Slovenia.

But their redoubtable Romanian rivals came charging back to lead in the dying moments and it was decided on the last stroke, Ford’s crew claiming gold by a margin of 0.05 seconds.

“We’re very relieved and enjoyed being in a race that was so close,” said Fieldman.

“It often comes down to those margins and that makes it all the sweeter.

“It’s the age-old saying from the Redgrave days, you want to be able to win on your worst day. Maybe this was our worst day.

“There’s confidence to take from that but a lot of space to push forward and that’s really exciting.

“It might be a real motivator for this crew moving forward - that was not a comfortable position to be in.

“You always want to win but if you can put a bit more margin in there, it will be a lot better for everyone.”

The British men’s eight remain unbeaten since claiming bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.

It was all the more impressive given cox Harry Brightmore, after guiding his crew to victory in Thursday’s preliminary race, pulled out of the final for medical reasons to be replaced by Fieldman.

The thrilling triumph was an emotional one for Olympic bronze medallist Dawson, who suffered a life-threatening pulmonary embolism in April 2022.

“I didn’t know whether I’d return to rowing at all, let alone race on the world stage again,” said Dawson.

“Everybody in this team is very special to me, they all become your closest friends. I’ve shared Olympic finals with lots of them and it was cherry on top to be able to get the win with them, despite it being much closer than we wanted it to be.”

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