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Holly lands bronze medal in race for European success

By Robert Jones

Ulster rower Holly Nixon bagged an impressive bronze medal at the European Rowing Championships in Racice. The Enniskillen woman and her team-mates in the GB quadruple sculls crew recorded 6:26.540, less than a second behind the Netherlands, with Germany winning in 6:24.080.

After finishing third behind Poland and Germany in the first World Cup of the season in Belgrade three weeks ago the 23-year-old was moved to the front of the boat to stroke the Great Britain quad alongside Bethany Bryan, Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne and Jess Leyden, and a fast pace earned them a place on the podium.

They were just half a length down at the finish and the team's performance is a huge confidence boost for the rest of the season.

Rebecca Shorten's senior international debut for GB in the women's eight ended with a fourth place finish.

The GB women's eight have no returning members from the crew that won silver in Rio and the Belfast woman was part of a new line-up that were second at halfway behind eventual winners Romania before being caught by the Netherlands and Russia.

It was a disappointing regatta for Coleraine's Peter Chambers and Joel Cassells, who finished outside the medals in their respective classes.

Chambers and Englishman Will Fletcher finished sixth in the lightweight double sculls as Olympic champions Pierre Houin and Jeremie Azou from France led from start to finish.

Ireland's O'Donovan brothers Paul and Gary, Rio silver medallists, produced their trademark fast finish to take silver ahead of Italy.

Cassells and partner Sam Scrimgeour could only manage fourth in the lightweight pair final.

The duo were defending their European title and Cassells was going for three in a row but they trailed Shane O'Driscoll and Mark O'Donovan from the start as the Irish pair set off at world record pace.

They held on to win gold ahead of Russia and Italy with Cassells and Scrimgeour missing out on the podium.

Ireland's superb championships in the Czech Republic also saw a silver for Skibbereen's Denise Walsh in the women's lightweight single sculls. Britain's Vicky Thornley captured gold in the single sculls.

Thornley, 29, who won Olympic silver in the double sculls with Katherine Grainger in Rio last year, clocked seven minutes 34.230 seconds, holding off a determined late burst from 44-year-old Belarusian Ekaterina Karsten, a two-time Olympic champion.

All British rowers wore black ribbons during their finals in memory of British Rowing president Dame Di Ellis, who died last week, and also as a tribute to the victims of last week's Manchester attack.

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