By Nigel Slater 26/07 Updated: 27/07 10:33
TWO DEDICATED coaches at Evesham Rowing Club could see one of their former pupils win gold in London 2012 after the club had a whip-round to get them dream tickets.
Keith Rafter and David Perry, who coach junior athletes at the Abbey Road club, are hoping to see rower Alex Gregory achieve one of sport's highest accolades in winning gold for Great Britain should his team reach and win the final of the Men's Four event on Saturday, August 4.
The pair, who will travel down to Eton Dorney on the big day, coached Gregory when he was 16 at Evesham Rowing Club which led to him being chosen as a reserve in Beijing 2008 and winning the Rowing World Championship twice for Great Britain.
This year's Olympic Games, which officially kicks off tomorrow (Friday) is a special one for Evesham Rowing Club with their former rowers Zac Purchase hoping to repeat his gold medal achievement in Beijing and Tom Dyson who is part of the GB Rowing coaching team.
Mr Rafter told the Observer he was extremely proud of Alex's achievements and said he has a great chance of winning gold this summer.
"Its nice for Evesham and great for the Evesham Rowing Club, He's got a good chance of winning gold at the Olympics," he said.
"I have followed Alex's career path very closely since coaching him and watched all his rowing on television. He started in 1999 and back then he was already 6ft 4 as well as being an accomplished swimmer.
"He took to rowing like a duck to water and was good from the word go."
British Rowing, the sport's governing body, gave each rowing club the chance to buy two limited tickets for the big final and youngsters at the club grasped the opportunity and had a whip-round so Keith and David could go on and see Alex in action.
Mr Rafter said he was over the moon to have been bought tickets for the big day and it could prove to be a very special day in their lives.
"It will be very special if I see him win gold," he added. "It would be terrific and great for the town of Evesham. I'm so grateful to the club for getting me and David tickets.
"Alex and his team are going to find it tough because the Australian crew are pushing them a bit now. But I'm sure we will all see him being presented with a gold medal.
Jane Sullivan, head coach at Evesham Rowing Club, said everyone at the club is wishing Gregory, Purchase and Dyson all the best.
"Alex always recognises the time and effort Evesham Rowing Club put into his career and he comes along to our presentation nights to help give inspiration to our youngsters," she said.
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