Britain's rowers emerged from lockdown better than ever with an imposing series of heat performances at the European Championships in Varese, Italy.
It is too early to draw direct Tokyo 2020 conclusions but Britain's sweepers and scullers deserve praise for overcoming a difficult year of lockdown training, coaching change and loss of rowers to retirement.
"I'm so proud of how the team has approached today," said Director of Performance Brendan Purcell.
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"They’ve been buzzing to get back out competing and our results today have reflected the hard work they’ve all put in to get to this point."
Foremost among those results was the fearsome marker laid down by Steve Trapmore's men's eight, who won the race for lanes and inflicted just a second defeat of the Olympic cycle on arch-rivals Germany.
Great Britain are the only team to have beaten the Germans since Rio 2016, who have swept world and European gold medals in the last three years and appear to have trained on the water without disruption during COVID-19. Their last defeat came to GB in a heavy crosswind at World Cup III in Rotterdam in 2019.
Cox Henry Fieldman appeared to call for a move to be made at the halfway mark and his crew opened up a two-second lead on Germany and four on the field at 1500m. The accident or design behind Martin Sauer's crew fading to fourth of five is likely to remain a mystery.
Charles Elwes's introduction in the five seat in place of Matthew Tarrant is the only change made by Britain to the line-up that won bronze and banked an Olympic quota place at the 2019 World Championships.
Elsewhere Britain's new women's quadruple sculls combination delivered victory in their heat by more than five seconds over a highly-rated Dutch crew.
Promising youngsters Lucy Glover and Hannah Scott impressed alongside Mathilda and Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne, who safely qualified a boat that missed out on the Rio Olympics, to advance to the A final.
They opened up two seconds on the world bronze medal-winning Netherlands at 1000m, prevailing in a time of 6:49.55.
Five years and three children after her last race, Helen Glover took victory in the heats of the women's pair alongside Polly Swann. They led from start to finish, beating Greece by 1.38 seconds and ensuring Glover will battle for an 11th international medal on her return to the sport.
Glover said: "It's nice to be back and get the first race of the season, and the first race in five years, done and set a marker for ourselves,"
"It felt very comfortable on the start line. I was expecting to feel a bit more nervy but, thanks to the foundation we've built through our training, I knew enough about myself before we started the race and it felt like a nice place to be.
"We definitely have things we want to work on for the next race, so we can put that into place now we've done our first race."
Vicky Thornley won her heat by six seconds in the women's single sculls, and Matt Haywood impressed on international debut in sealing a semi-final spot through the men's single sculls repechage.
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