Twickenham’s John Collins and teammate John Walton rowed ‘the race of their lives’ to reach the final of the men’s double sculls on Thursday.
The British double came third in a close-fought semi final, racing a strong Norwegian crew, reigning Olympic champions New Zealand and the undefeated Sinković brothers from Croatia.
Though the world record-holding Croatians remain favourites for the gold, the British pair were ecstatic with their performance and are confident about their chances.
“If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I will die happy. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted. A chance to race for that gold medal, that’s all I’ve ever wanted in life, said Collins.
“I always believed we could [reach the final] but it was very close… there was never a point where I thought ‘we’ve got this’.”
A nervous restart due to ‘wrong alignments’ acted as a prelude to a dramatic race.
Though the Croatian boat took an early lead by half a length at 500m, Norway and Britain remained in close pursuit in second and third positions respectively.
“If they can make the final from this semi, they are in for a shot for a medal,” said former Olympic champion James Cracknell at the halfway point.
“If they don’t treat it like their Olympic final they won’t be in the Olympic final.”
Despite a push from New Zealand around the 1,000m mark, they lacked the strength and endurance to break into the top three.
In the third 500m, Collins and Walton launched a challenge on the Norwegians and Croatian double, moving into a close second place.
The Sinković brothers held strong in the final sprint, however, and Norway caught the British double just before the line.
The second semi-final was less hotly-contested and the British duo will enter the final with the confidence that they can win a medal.
Great Britain will race Croatia, Norway, Lithuania, Italy and France in the double sculls final on Thursday, August 11 at 2.24pm.