WHEN Southampton rower James Foad takes his place in the Great Britain men’s eight as they go for gold today, he will have the full support of his hometown club cheering him on from the stands.
The people who knew James when he first took up the oars at the Itchen Imperial Rowing Club will be willing him on as he represents his country in an Olympic final.
More than 20 members of the club have made the trip to the Eton Dorney Lake to watch 25- year-old James and the rest of the team bid for glory.
Dad Chris said he fully expects the emotion of the occasion to overcome him.
“To see your son represent his country in an Olympic final, well it is just unbelievable. I am usually quite calm but I expect I will lose that and I’m sure it will all be quite emotional.”
Chris was James’ first coach and is captain of Itchen Rowing Club where James took up the sport.
With his father and grandfather keen rowers James was bitten by the bug after watching Steve Redgrave clinch his third gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.
Also that year a bronze medal was won by Greg Searle, who was due to be with James in the boat this morning.
Chris said: “He has always been determined and at 6ft 2ins he has never been the biggest or tallest but that has not stopped him earning a place in that team. He has made it there on merit and sheer determination and that has always been his way.”
Also in the stands will be club secretary Gary Joyce whose children used to row with James before his talent was spotted and he continued his progress with the Molesey club in Surrey.
He said: “Just seeing him out there representing his country is an amazing achievement but I know it won’t be enough for them.
They only have one goal, it’s what they came here for. Whatever happens James will have done us proud.”
Both agree that a medal is well within the team that has only raced together as a crew for the two races of the competition so far.
But it will be the Germans that will pose the biggest threat as the team has not been defeated in competition since 2009.
Gary said: “I think a medal is well within them, I am cautiously optimistic for them. At this level luck doesn’t come into it. It is all about preparation and the performance on the day.”
Chris last saw his son after the repechage win on Monday that saw them through to the final. “He was really pleased but straight away looking towards the final. It is what they came here to do.
“I know he will be quite quiet before the race, not really wanting to talk to anyone but just getting himself in the zone.
“I know they had a few problems in the first heat but they put that right in the repechage so in some ways that race has done them good. I hope they can push on from that and who knows what impact the home crowd will have. There is no doubt they will be going for gold.”