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Richard fulfils Olympic dream
4:00pm Monday 10th November 2008 in Interviews
FULFILLING more than seven years’ ambition and testing himself against the world’s greatest rowers, it has certainly been an amazing year for Richard Egington.
In August, the Warrington-born rower became the town’s most successful Olympian to date when he and the Team GB men’s eight rowing crew returned home from Beijing with a silver medal.
The team finished less than two seconds behind Canada with tear-jerking television images tracking their initial frustration from coming so close to the top.
Richard, a former Lymm High School pupil, said: “I was disappointed to not get the gold but an Olympic silver is very special.
“Just missing out was tough but I’m pleased and proud.”
This is quite the understatement considering it was Richard’s first foray into the Games and no Warrington Olympian has come close to this achievement in years.
He bettered the bronze medal successes of boxer Robin Reid in 1992 and athlete Michelle Probert in 1980.
“I have no regrets about this year,” the 29-year-old added.
“I’ve had my best performances and good improvements. I don’t think I left any stone unturned so I’m really content with my experience at the Games.”
Watching from the stands of Shunyi Olympic Rowing Park were Richard’s girlfriend Faye and sister Angela. They also saw the team being presented with their reward and then proudly hold aloft the Union Jack after the victory.
“The atmosphere was electric while watching the race,” said Angela, 26.
“There were a lot of nerves just watching but it was really special being in the stand with the family and friends of all the rowers in the men’s eight.
“Faye and I spent some time with Richard afterwards and it was great to see the Chinese people treating the athletes like stars.
Richard was getting treated really well and people were asking for his autograph.
“We’re just so proud of what he has achieved.
“The work he has done has been phenomenal and he has had to sacrifice so much to get where he is.
“That’s the main thing I feel – just how much effort he has put in for years to get on the squad and to get his fitness. It’s incredible what he’s done.”
Meanwhile, tensions were also high back in Warrington with Richard’s parents Barbara and Phillip watching the action from their home with baited breath.
His dad Phillip said: “It’s a tremendous achievement and it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work. It’s more than seven years that he’s had the ambition.
“Any athlete goes out there for gold and it is about winning when they go in that race but he is quite pleased with that result really.”
As for Richard’s mum Barbara, she had to get used to not seeing much of her son as he committed himself 100 per cent to challenge at hand.
She said: “Aiming for the Olympics means you put your life on hold. Richard has only had one day off each month.
“There’s no social life and you only have holidays when they say, which is a couple of weeks in the summer and a few days at Christmas.”
Richard started his rowing career at Warrington Rowing Club at about the age of 15 and acknowledges that much of his success in China stems from those early days when his potential was recognised and gradually unlocked.
He was trained by the club’s founder and current chairman Richard Sinnott after he turned up with a friend in search of a sport to challenge his powerful frame.
The chairman was one of many members of the club to follow the Warrington-born Olympian’s progress and toast his success.
He added: “Everyone at the club is very proud of him and I’m very proud to have been his first coach.
“When he turned up he was very raw. I think he was looking for a sport as he realised he was a powerful lad and wanted to test himself in one avenue or another.
“He’s always had immense talent and initially we started to notice him on the indoor rowing machines because he was achieving things on them that were ludicrous.”
“Richard entered the first ever English Indoor Rowing Championships as a junior and won it overall with the fastest time of the day.
“And even in those early days, the national coaches came to Warrington especially to have a look at him.”
Sinnott coached Richard for more than three years before he moved to Henley and joined the Leander club.
He said: “I think the most important thing for athletes is to develop their full potential and if that means they’ve got to move away, so be it.
“He’s still very proud of his roots and he never fails to mention Warrington whenever he can.”
The Warrington Rowing Club founder also believes Richard’s success has set a great example for all the young club members.
“It’s such a great thing for kids to aim at,” Sinnott added.
“If one guy’s done it from here, why not someone else?”
Since that fateful day, Richard has enjoyed something of a celebrity status and even dined with Princess Anne.
He is yet to announce if he will compete for gold on home water in the 2012 Olympics in London.
Whatever his decision, Warrington certainly has an icon to be proud of and with surely a successful career in front of him, Richard will never be stuck without a paddle.