Members of the men’s eight, with Moe Sbihi fourth from left. Credit: British Rowing/David Pearce.
The Maidenhead medal rush continued on Thursday when Moe Sbihi won bronze with the men’s eight on the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo.
Sbihi, Team GB’s flagbearer for the Games, and crewmates Josh Bugajski, Jacob Dawson, Tom George, Charlie Elwes, Ollie Wynne-Griffth, James Rudkin, Tom Ford and cox Henry Fieldman were embroiled in a three-boat sprint for the line which saw New Zealand take gold ahead of the Germans in silver with Great Britain just one tenth of a second further back.
After an assured start they sat alongside the reigning world champions Germany and were second at the half-way mark. By that stage New Zealand – with whom Hamish Bond won his third Olympic gold – had already begun their sustained push to become champions.
It was good enough for the rowing team to win a second medal of these games, after Maidonian Jack Beaumont, Harry Leask, Angus Groom and Tom Barras won silver in the men’s quadruple sculls earlier in the week. Two medals from these Games was a disappointing haul for Team GB, however, both of the crews featured Maidenhead athletes.
Neighbours in Maidenhead held a homecoming party for Moe when he returned on Saturday night.
The men’s eight has been one of Team GB’s most successful crews in recent history, and they came into the Games as defending champions. However, they never quite showed the form of champions, finishing third in their heat last week before having to come through the repechage race to qualify for the final.
Sbihi, who grew up in Kingston-upon-Thames, was the only athlete in the eight to have previous Olympic experience, having won bronze with the men’s eight in 2012 and gold in the four in Rio.
He said: “I feel like this week we haven’t been able to show ourselves properly for one reason or another.
“Part of learning how to win is to extract the performance out of yourself and I feel like we did that today. We put ourselves in the position to challenge for the right medal.”
Crewmate Wynne-Griffith, who was in the sixth seat, added: “Overall I’m very proud of the performance “We had a pretty up-and-down week. It’s not the colour we wanted but there have been a lot of fourth places on the team, a lot of near misses, so it’s good to be on the right side of one.
“From the brief conversation we’ve had we said we’ve done everything we could,” said Wynne-Griffith. “Fair play to Germany and New Zealand for putting two really fast races together.”
It’s been a hugely successful Games for athletes from Maidenhead and the Royal Borough. Swimmer Tom Dean is a double Olympic champion after victories in the men’s 200m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay, while Beaumont secured a silver with the men’s quadruple sculls rowing crew. Windsor’s Mallory Franklin repeated that feat to take silver in the women’s C1 canoe slalom on Thursday while Moe Sbihi completed the set by taking bronze with the men’s eights.