ZOE de Toledo is confident she can steer Great Britain to gold after an uncertain build-up to the Rio Olympics for the women’s eight.

Former Oxford University and Oxford Brookes student de Toledo was the only member of the crew whose place was secure before the team announcement in June.

But it meant she offered a pastoral role to her teammates, who include Frances Houghton, from Wheatley, when their places came under threat from Katherine Grainger and Vicky Thornley.

The duo’s bid to break into the eight ultimately failed, but de Toledo, who coxed Oxford in the Boat Race in 2012, revealed several crew members did come to her to take their minds off the situation.

She said: “It’s always hard to compete against your friends and your teammates.

“It was exciting in the sense you’ve got these two top athletes who wanted to be part of what we’re doing, which is incredible.

“Obviously it wasn’t my seat up for grabs, so I was slightly more on the outside of it. (But) it was really hard.

“My job is to support the athletes.

“If they wanted someone to talk to because they’re feeling worried, they can come and talk to me.

“If they need geeing up, they come and talk to me.”

Heading into the World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland, the coxed eight of Houghton, Polly Swann, Katie Greves, Melanie Wilson, Jessica Eddie, Olivia Carnegie-Brown, Karen Bennett and Zoe Lee could not have had more pressure on their shoulders.

But amid the speculation two of them could lose their places, they won silver and de Toledo, who will compete at her first Games, believes that performance speaks volumes ahead of heats in Rio on August 8.

The 28-year-old, who will return to Oxford later this year to study medicine, said: “I really believe this is the fastest crew that we could possibly have. That’s really exciting.

“And I’m hugely impressed with the way the eight girls have handled the situation.

“We had to go and race in Lucerne with the selection hanging over their heads and we went and raced well.

“That gives me a lot of confidence for how they’re going to react when they’re under pressure in Rio.”