Riches blown away by Games reaction

Naomi Riches, second right, celebrates gold with her mixed cox four crew

Naomi Riches, second right, celebrates gold with her mixed cox four crew

First published in Sport by

MARLOW’S rowing star Naomi Riches says she’s been living in a whirlwind since she raced to gold in the Mixed Coxed Four at Eton Dorney on Sunday.

Great Britain hit top speed to beat Germany by two seconds in the final, but Riches admits life has got even faster since they sped across the line.

She said: “The last few days have been pretty surreal. There has been so much interest in us with everyone wanting to share in what we’ve done.

“I was even on television with Paul O’Grady – it’s been like being in someone else’s life. It’s so strange. I’ve felt like a bit of an imposter.”

But Riches will have to come to terms with being a genuine star now.

Her gold at Dorney Lake follows a bronze in Beijing and sits nicely with her five world championship gold medals.

Nothing though, prepared her the experience of a home Games.

She said: “The announcer was going through the teams before the race and when she got to GB you could hear the roar from 1,000m away.

“It was incredible racing in front of a crowd like that, knowing that 99.9 per cent of them were shouting for you.

“In the last 250m they were so loud we couldn’t hear Lily [Vand Den Broecke], the cox. They were the ones who pulled us down the course, they won it with us.”

Riches’ win continues a golden period for British Rowing, after Marlow’s Katherine Grainger, Zac Purchase, Mark Hunter and Greg Searle all won medals at the Olympics.

She said: “When you’re doing on home waters, only a couple of weeks apart, we were over-awed by their performance.

“No pressure then!

“But we wanted to make them proud because they’d made us so proud and we were able to use that feeling and take it onto the water.”

Winning gold on home soil is surely the pinnacle of any career, but Riches admits she’s not ready to give up the sport just yet.

At 29, Rio in four years time is very much on the agenda.

She said: “Four years is a long time. Things happen and things move very quickly, but I’d love to go to Rio and I’ll be working my backside off to stay in the team.”

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4:27pm Thu 6 Sep 12

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