Surbiton’s Moe Sbihi hopes the experience of finally winning a championship title becomes a habit, having experienced two years of frustration.
That frustration comes from finishing third at the Olympics in 2012, having only ever considered winning to be a success, and then picking up two World Cup golds in 2013, at Sydney and Eton Dorney, before a fourth place in the final event in Lucerne.
The former Hollyfield School student admits winning the World Championships – becoming the first British men’s eight team to do so – left him relieved and finally able to start enjoying rowing again.
“Last year was frustrating in my mind,” said the Molesey Boat Club star.
“Maybe it’s a personal thing, but coming into the final weeks of the year I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself, and yeah we won the World Championships, but my overriding emotion was relief. It was not joy, it was: ‘I’ve finally done it’.
“And now I feel like I can start enjoying rowing again.
“The pressure is off a little bit, but I don’t want to lose
it. I think I let it consume me last year.
“I wasn’t the best of team-mates coming up to the World Championships, but hopefully the guys saw that as me getting into my zone and trying to get ready to compete.
“Winning becomes a habit in sport, the same way as losing becomes a habit.
“And losing became a habit for the Olympic eight in 2012, where I think, all it would have taken us was to beat the Germans once, and we would have done it again.
“But that once had to be the Olympic final, which was just really frustrating.”
This season sees a change, with the next Olympics getting closer, and Sbihi finds himself in the four boat ahead of the European Championships in Belgrade, which started yesterday with finals day on Sunday.
“I’m enjoying the new boat,” he said.
“It’s a new challenge. I’m rowing with three great guys [two Molesey club mates in Andrew Triggs Hodge and George North, as well Alex Gregory of Leander].
“The four of us had a really great winter, and we’re
looking forward to how it’s going to play out over the next few weeks.
“Because it’s the first event, and we’ve had this winter, we feel like we can turn up and go for it and see where we are at.
“The evaluation will come after, but we’ll go for the win.
“I’m personally really looking forward to it – it’s a title.
“To say you’re a European champion resonates stronger to the public and to us rowers than it would if it was a World Cup.
“The World Cups, although great races, are ultimately very small in comparison to either the Worlds or European Championships.”