Belfast Telegraph

Hundreds pack hall to watch rowers

Posters on the wall at Coleraine Baptist Church proclaimed that the Lord reigns but it was the Chambers brothers who ruled in their proud home town.

Hundreds of supporters waving Union flags and placards packed the church hall in the Co Londonderry, Northern Ireland, town to watch on a big screen as Team GB took silver.

The nail-biting rowing finish prompted a barrage of cheers and exhortations in the place where it all began but it was not enough to urge native duo Richard and Peter Chambers, pillars of the church, into first place.

They are the first brothers to row together in a senior Team GB boat since the 1990s.

Their Bann rowing club vice-captain Stephen Smyth said: "They will get a massive reception home, if they had won the gold they could not have gotten a bigger reception. Those boys make no excuses, they delivered big time on the day and we could not have been more proud."

The River Bann, where the Chambers spent their formative years practising their oar strokes, flows through the town only a short distance from the church hall.

Joel Cassells has rowed with Peter Chambers and said: "There is something magic in the River Bann."

Pastor at the church Trevor Watson said the brothers were unassuming and modest. "They have done us proud and if they had finished in sixth place they would have done us proud, they have done their best," he said.

Inside the hall children ate pizza and waved banners and flags of support. Friends of the pair had gathered expectant from early morning.

Steve Whitmarsh, a teacher living in Coleraine, taught Richard Chambers at bible class and is a member of the church. "They are very pleasant and come from a lovely family, they are very committed to what they are doing," he said. "They have made sacrifices to actually get where they are today."


From Belfast Telegraph