Thomas has Paris on his mind ahead of European Rowing Championships

Helen Glover, Esme Booth, Samantha Redgrave, Rebecca Shorten

By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat

Graeme Thomas feels a ‘fairytale’ Olympic finale is not out of reach ahead of this weekend’s European Rowing Championships.

The Preston star missed the entirety of the 2023 season through injury but announced his comeback with a sensational victory at December’s Olympic Trials in Caversham.

Varese in Italy was the next destination on the road to recovery and a silver in the first World Cup regatta of the season earlier this month hardened Thomas’ belief that Paris 2024 is more than a possibility.

“My friend (Olympic rower) Charles Cousins always used to say ‘smile on the podium boys, you never know when it’s your last,’” said Thomas.

“For me, the 2022 World Championships could have been my last time and there were definitely moments in that period where I thought it was curtains for me.

“Here I am, there was a bit of emotion getting my first race under my belt.

“Once I got over that hurdle, it was back to business and slotting into the groove.”

Thomas joined forces with Callum Dixon, Tom Barras and Matthew Haywood in the quadruple sculls event, where they were pipped to gold by the reigning Olympic champions from the Netherlands.

“These boys have done a great job of facilitating any things I’ve needed with my ongoing rehab,” said Thomas. “So I’m grateful to them and we’ve done a great job here.

“We were expecting a quick start but we didn’t necessarily think we were going to be one of the crews executing that, so we’re really happy to be in the race and in a fight and that’s our best piece to date.”

The race for a seat in an Olympic boat will only intensify in the coming months ahead of the team announcement on June 5.

And the 35-year-old, who withdrew from Rio 2016 through illness and finished fourth in Tokyo, is confident he has made a compelling case to men’s head coach Paul Stannard for Paris 2024 selection.

Asked how close he feels to his maximum, Thomas said: “The numbers I’ve been producing in training are comparable so as an older athlete, just to get back to personal best level rather than exceeding is a sustainable and happy level to be at.”

But Thomas is not looking any further ahead than this week’s European Championships in Szeged and helping the quad improve on last year’s fourth-placed finish.

“[A third Olympics] would be fairytale stuff but at the moment it’s just one day at a time and focusing on what we can do as a crew to improve,” added Thomas.

“We stick to good processes and the outcomes take care of themselves.”

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