Row to Rio! Two-time Olympic silver medallist Debbie Flood backs Twickenham rower John Collins

Buoyed by a first senior Great Britain medal earlier this year, Twickenham rower John Collins should head into Rio looking to stay firmly on the podium, according to two-time Olympic silver medallist Debbie Flood.

Leander Club rower Collins has established himself in the men’s sculling squad during this Olympiad and has raced with Jonathan Walton in the men’s double during the past three seasons.

Just last month, the pair caught the eye when they produced the surprise performance of the regatta at the World Cup in Poznan by taking silver.

But while undoubtedly a timely boost ahead of an Olympic Games debut in Brazil, Flood believes Collins’ partnership with Walton is more than capable of bearing further fruit.

“They have wanted this for a long time. They have been on the cusp of medals for a long time and what a fantastic World Cup they have just had,” said Flood, speaking at the Invesco Perpetual City Regatta in Leeds.

“That medal will have really built their confidence and they know that if they can have their best race, they are capable of winning an Olympic medal.

“They have shown that this season, but it is such a tough event that in the past, they have been fighting to get into that A final, but now they are consistently in there and they’ve got a great chance.

“That bond and that partnership they have is massively important. They know each other so well, they know how each other reacts under pressure, and the calls you make in the boat, they are so specific and they mean something to both of you.

“In the double sculls, if you work together you can really fly. It’s like a comfortable slipper as such, you can really move together. They know each other so well and that is a massive advantage for them.

“They will be wanting to get that medal. They are high-performing athletes and, as with the rest of the team, we’re such a successful team overall that everyone wants to go out there and win medals.

“It’s not the case anymore like 15 or 16 years ago that there was one boat that was expected to win medals, all those boats are going out to Rio wanting to win medals and be a part of the success.”

Last week saw UK Sport release their medal aims for Rio, setting it up as the most successful overseas Games for Great Britain with a 48-medal target.

Six of those medals have been put on the shoulders of the rowing squad, three less than the sport’s total haul in London four years ago.

And while the target inevitably piles the pressure on this year’s team, Flood admits excitement will be overriding all other emotions as the countdown to the Games truly begins.

“Putting on those rings of the Olympic kit is so special, and that excitement will really be building,” she said.

“Those who haven’t been to the Olympics before probably will be more nervous, there is a lot of expectation, but if you use that pressure to really lift you, rather than suppress you down, then they will be fantastic and rise to the occasion.

“I think six medals is a very good target. It’s so tough, because medals are won by a matter of fractions of a second, so they’re absolutely going to have to be on their A-game, but across the board, we’re looking to bring back medals.

“The London 2012 squad is tough to beat. It was an amazing year for rowing and like we’re saying, it takes time to build people into the team, and I think London is going to be a tough target to beat.

“We will definitely be going for those six medals and more, but whether we’ll get as many golds as London we’ll have to see, but history is potentially going to be made.”

Invesco Perpetual’s innovative new ‘City Regatta’ event is a celebration of the achievements of Leander Club, the main feeder club to the GB team with 23 of its rowers headed for Rio, and aims to encourage more people across the UK to get involved in rowing.

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