By Nigel Slater 09/08 Updated: 09/08 13:38
THE COACH who trained Olympic gold medallist Alex Gregory at Evesham Rowing Club has spoken of his pride seeing him take home sport's greatest prize.
Keith Rafter travelled down to London on Saturday (August 4) with fellow coach David Perry to witness the historic moment in the coxless four rowing final.
Alex, who is from Wormington near Broadway, rowed to glory along with Pete Reed, Andy Triggs Hodge and Tom James - Team GB's fourth successive gold in the event.
Mr Rafter and Mr Perry coached Alex when he was 16 which led to him being chosen as a reserve in Beijing in 2008 and winning the Rowing World Championship twice for Great Britain.
But the 28-year-old's greatest moment came at the weekend when he was cheered on by tens of thousands of ecstatic people at Eton Dorney.
A delighted Mr Rafter told the Observer it was a day he would never forget.
"I had tears in my eyes, it was absolutely fantastic. Me and David are very proud," he said.
"We were 200 metres from the finishing lane and had a superb view. It was great to see them race. They started off strong and quick, got in the lead and stayed there and that is what exactly what they needed to do.
"I had butterflies in my stomach before the race started but it was a glorious feeling when they won it. The Australians were absolutely devastated.
"You couldn't hear anything but the crowd shouting 'Go GB', it was brilliant to see the whole 30,000 people routing them on and shouting at the top of the voices with their flags waving.
"It could not have happened to a nicer guy and I'm sure I will meet him again soon at the club. Everyone will want to see his gold medal."
Speaking after his victory Alex said he was still getting to grips with being an Olympic gold medallist.
"It still doesn't feel real, I managed to come home and see my son and girlfriend and watch it on telly," he added.
"It's starting to sink in now and it's a feeling I can really enjoy, it's starting to feel really good."
While there was golden glory for Alex, another former Evesham Rowing Club star Zac Purchase had to settle for silver with team mate Mark Hunter in the men's lightweight double sculls.
"I felt a tinge of sadness for him because he and Mark lost the race in the last 200 metres as they had no energy left," Mr Rafter added.
"But Zac and Mark did a great job."
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