A former Rydal Penrhos pupil turned in a gold medal performance in the single sculls at the European Rowing Championships in Racice.
Vicky Thornley, aged 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 to cross the line in first place.
Her expertly judged success added to three bronze medals from the women’s team, while the men’s squad were dogged by illness and injury, finishing below the podium.
Watched by former crewmate Grainger, who was working for the BBC as a colour commentator, Thornley held her nerve while Germany and Denmark led in turn, then pushed in the third quarter and stayed ahead in the sprint.
Thornley won a World U23 title in Racice back in 2009 and can now add European champion to her list of accomplishments.
This achievement was made all the more significant by the fact that Thornley is nowhere near full fitness after suffering an injury, which ensures there is plenty of optimism surrounding her chances at September’s World Championships in Florida.
She said: “It was a bit short and messy at the end but I managed to hang on.
“What Katherine and I produced in Rio was just a massive confidence boost for me.”