MATT Gotrel admits his gold medal triumph has yet to fully sink in following his team’s heroics in the Rio Olympic Games.
The Chipping Campden rower helped Great Britain enjoy a golden finale to the Rio rowing regatta as the men’s eight won gold in dominant fashion last Saturday.
The celebrations following Team GB’s first-ever Olympic medal in the women’s eight had barely subsided by the time the men’s crew took to the water.
Gotrel, along with team-mates Scott Durant, Tom Ransley, Andrew T Hodge, Pete Reed, Paul Bennett, Matt Langridge, William Satch and cox Phelan Hill produced an exceptional race, following up the women’s silver by topping the podium in the final race at the Lagoa.
“It’s all still very surreal,” said Gotrel, a former pupil of Chipping Campden School.
“I don’t see myself as an Olympic medalist. I was happy to make the start line for our heat, as that meant I was officially an Olympian, which was always the dream.
“So to win was truly amazing. I know how big an achievement it is, but I’m yet to realise that I’ve actually achieved it!
“It’s hard to take it all in when you’re still in the Olympic bubble, but when I’m back home and seeing friends and family then I think it will feel a bit more real.”
It was Britain’s first gold in the event since Sydney 2000 and was thoroughly deserved after a storming start to the race.
Germany were unable to claw back the leaders, finishing 1.33 seconds behind to the delight of the strong British contingent in the crowd.
It marked quite the Olympic debut for Gotrel, who arrived in the sport relatively late, having previously been a member of the British sailing team until 2009.
It was only when Gotrel started university at Loughborough that year he picked up the rowing bug and seven years later he is now an Olympic champion.
Gotrel said: “I had a little taster at Stratford Rowing Club when I was about 16, but I didn’t like the early mornings and it was too much like hard work, so I stuck to sailing.
“When I was at Loughborough, I was told by the sailing physiologists that I suited rowing and if I ever stopped sailing then I should give it a go.
“It turns out they were right and four years later I became a world champion, which still baffles me.”
Gotrel also thanked the supporters who cheered him and the team on to victory, particularly those in his hometown of Chipping Campden.
“The support I’ve had from everyone, including those in Chipping Campden and all of my schoolmates has been truly overwhelming,” he added.
“I’m very proud to represent the little town in the Cotswolds.”