GREAT Britain’s women’s eight, with a strong representation from Oxford, won a surprise gold medal at the European Championships in Brandenburg, Germany, writes John Wiggins.

While two of Britain’s four golds – from reigning Olympic champions, the women’s pair and men’s four – were entirely expected, the women’s eight showed their calibre by grabbing gold in the last few metres of their race.

Credit was paid by the crew to their cox, Oxford Blue, Zoe de Toledo, who called the race perfectly in what Headingtonian, Katie Greves described as the worst racing conditions ever experienced at international level.

Stroked by another Oxford Blue and Rose Hill resident, Zoe Lee, and backed up by Oxford Brookes’ Olivia Carnegie-Brown the crew will have more to deal with in Rio when up against the American and Canadian eights

But with Wheatley-based, Frances Houghton in line for her fifth Olympics, the crew has strength and more experience to call upon in their quest for GB’s first Olympic medal in the women’s eight.

The opening gold medal of the day came for the lightweight pair of Sam Scrimgeour and Brookes University’s, Joel Cassells.

This is a non-Olympic event but leading their race from start to finish keeps them in contention for consideration for the Olympic lightweight four.

However, the current crew, stroked by another Brookes man, Peter Chambers impressed with a silver medal.

The other silver went to the pair of St Edward’s old boy, Stewart Innes who, with Alan Sinclair, was bitterly disappointed having been overtaken in the last few strokes

The men’s four with former Oxford president, Constantine Louloudis at stroke, surprised no-one by taking gold.

The eight, with Oxford Blues, Pete Reed, Andrew Triggs Hodge and Paul Bennett and Brookes BC’s Scott Durrant lost in in a photo-finish for the bronze medal.

Meanwhile, Abingdon School pupils, Tom Digby (fourth in the quad scull) and Adam Teece (in a winning coxless four) were key members of the GB team at the Munich Junior International Regatta

Abingdon School shone at Bedford Regatta where they reached five finals but were frustrated by winning only the IM3 coxed fours.