A former Peterborough City Rowing Club oarsman won the British Indoor Championships for the second year running at the weekend.
Adam Neill, who was a pupil at King’s School, won the two-kilometre event at the Olympic Park Velodrome in a time of 5mins 48.2secs as GB team members filled the first five places.
Neill, just back from an altitude camp in the Sierra Nevada, rowed in the GB eight this year at the three World Cup races, the European Championships and the World Championships in Florida and won silver and bronze medals before coming seventh at the worlds. His aim now is to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
This year’s championships attracted far more media coverage than usual due to the debut appearance of five-time Olympic cycling champion Sir Bradley WIggins.
But it was a debut that ended in disappointment.
The 37-year-old, who retired from cycling in December 2016, has previously floated the possibility of going to a sixth Olympics, but this time as a rower at Tokyo 2020, when he will be 40.
But his inexperience in the event on rowing machines, such as those found in most gyms, was apparent as he paused early on, thinking he had false started.
He recovered his rhythm but shook his head at finishing 21st in six minutes 22.5 seconds.
“Huge disappointment today!” he wrote on Instagram. “Upon hearing a call in the background, I thought the race had false started so I put my oar down. Schoolboy error but hey we live and learn as my plan was 6.02. Fantastic experience racing with everyone, will come back 12 months stronger next year!”
Wiggins left the competition area swiftly before leaving the velodrome soon afterwards.
No Olympic cyclist has ever made the transition to rowing at the highest level, but Wiggins has received plenty of support from Britain’s oarsmen, including Neill.
”I think it’s really interesting and he’s obviously an unbelievable sportsman,“ Neill said. ”Some people might say it’s impossible but it’s Bradley Wiggins so what is impossible for that guy, he won the Tour de France.
”When he sets his mind to something he doesn’t let things get in his way. He still has to learn about rowing on the water, but I don’t see any reason he can’t give it a go.
“This was his first 2km. He has a way to go but his improvement curve will be high. He should not be too disappointed because if he did it again next week I imagine he would go faster.”