When the team of James Myers of Beamsville and Grayson Gray of Thorold crossed the finish line at the U23 World Rowing Championship they had no idea they had earned a third-place finish – it was that close.
The pair started the competition in Varese, Italy by winning their heat and advancing to the semi-finals set for July 26.
Not too shabby for their first time as members of the U23 Canadian National Team.
During the final, the Czech Republic crew had taken an early lead. Germany and Great Britain were battling for second and the Canadian crew was sitting back in fifth place. By the halfway mark, the Czechs were firmly in the lead and the Canadians had advanced and were now battling with Great Britain and Germany.
Gray and Myers charged for the finish line crossing third just a half second behind Great Britain to take the bronze.
“We were watching on the video screen and it was so close we couldn’t tell either,” said James’ father Brad, who accompanied him to Italy to cheer him on together with Gray’s mom, Debra Shiers.
Once the bronze medal was confirmed there was an explosion of shouts from the Canadians sitting in the stands proudly decked out in red and white, complete with flags and cowboys hats.
James himself was “surprised” but elated by the medal.
“We really couldn’t tell where we were, we just kept going,” he said.
The win was Canada’s first lightweight men’s U23 medal since 2005.
“It has been an amazing summer,” said his proud dad.
Myers had spent months training in London, Ontario where Rowing Canada Aviron operates one of two National Training Centres (NTCs) for senior national team athletes to train year round.
Coaches, support staff and administrative staff for Rowing Canada Aviron are based at the two NTCs.
The one in London has light weight mens’ and women’s programs and is by invitation only based on performance standards.
Both Myers and Gray are students at Brock University where Myers is studying chemistry.
They will be returning to their rowing team this fall.
They have been coached locally by “amazing coaches” with the St. Catharines Rowing Club and Brock University, said Brad.