If he was still floating on cloud nine following his Olympic success last summer, Moe Sbihi certainly came back down to Earth with a bump at last month’s European Championships.
Stroking a new-look men’s four, Sbihi – along with Will Satch, Matthew Tarrant and Callum McBrierty – finished fifth in Racice, Czech Republic, a far cry from his gold in Rio just nine months previously.
It’s a result Sbihi wants to firmly put behind him at this weekend’s World Cup II in Poznan, Poland, as he and his teammates continue their search for much-needed consistency.
Just three weeks prior to their European upset, Sbihi and co had swept aside crews from the Netherlands, Spain and Russia to win the first World Cup event in Belgrade.
But the 29-year-old is refusing to put any pressure on his boat for now, although that’s something that will change for the World Championships later this year.
“We’re not putting any expectations on how we are going to do in Poznan,” he said.
“I feel confident in the way that we are rowing, but I want the confidence to be coming through in the results rather than going in thinking we’re going to win or that we’ve made the improvements that mean we are going to win.
“I would say that I feel very different to four years ago, we weren’t doing very well then either, but I had three very experienced rowers who knew exactly what was going on and trusted that long-term path to get to the gold medal.
“Now that I’m one of the few that have done it, I have to ooze some confidence out to the squad and say that you can have some bad results but still win World Championship gold in September.
“I’m expecting us in the World Championships to be bulletproof, and we’re working so that by October we are just that.
“I’ve been in boats where it’s happened almost instantly, you get in and know there and then that you’re going to be unbeaten, so it’s a very different approach to get to the same endpoint.”
Once the World Championships are done and dusted, Sbihi and his crewmates will quickly turn their attentions to the 2018 European Championships.
For the first time ever, a new multi-sport event will combine the existing European Championships for aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon, along with a new golf team championships, between August 2-12 in Glasgow.
The 2018 European Athletics Championships meanwhile will be held in Berlin from August 7-12.
More than 3,000 of the continent’s finest athletes will descend on the Scottish city over 11 days of action for the biggest sporting event in the country since the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games – and Sbihi can’t wait for it all to get underway.
“We’re so looking forward to it. Rowing is unique, one of the true Olympic sports where the Games is the pinnacle,” he said.
“We’re not taking part at the same time as other events, so to be part of a five-sport Championship is like a mini Olympics for us.
“It’s a warm-up and for the lot of the young guys it’s going to be the first time at an event like this, and that will be very special. To be on home water will be even more fun and we can’t wait.
“For the guys who have been to an Olympics, you have that experience and it will be so different, but you know the pressures that you have to go through, the buzz of the competition going on everywhere.
“To be thrown into that in the deep end at the Europeans as opposed to the Olympics will be invaluable.
“The vibe after London  was always electric, everyone was getting behind the whole country, and hopefully we’ll have the same in Glasgow. “
Tickets for the Glasgow 2018 European Championships – an exciting new multi-sport event bringing together some of the continent’s leading sports – are now on sale at www.glasgow2018.com/tickets starting at £10 for adults and £5 for under-16s and over-60s.
Featured image courtesy of Ollie Harding, with thanks