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The GB Rowing Team is the high performance arm of British Rowing. Rowing is the nation’s most continuously successful Olympic sport, having won a gold medal in every Olympic Games since 1984, and has won six Paralympic golds since the sport was introduced to the Paralympic Games programme in 2008.
GB Rowing Team
Rower // Men's Squad Date of Birth: 8th Nov 1988 (33 years old)
Club: Agecroft RC Height: 193cm Hometown: Preston
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Graeme Thomas came to the sport through the GB Rowing Team Start talent identification and development programme. He was the GB single sculler at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
A former rugby union player, he switched to rowing at the age of 20 and first represented GB at the European Rowing Championships in 2011, where he finished fifth in the men’s single sculls (M1x).
In 2013, he won the bronze silver medal in the men’s quad sculls (M4x) at the World Rowing Championships, and silver in the same event in 2014. Also in the quad, he took silver at the European Championships in 2014 and bronze in 2015.
Thomas was cruelly forced to miss the Rio 2016 Olympic Games when he fell ill just days before the regatta. Hip surgery then kept the Agecroft rower out of competition for the majority of the 2017 season.
He was selected in the double scull with Angus Groom for the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota-Bradenton, winning the B final. But Thomas came away with an incredible silver medal in the men’s quad after subbing in for Peter Lambert just minutes before the final was due to start. He became World Champion in the quad in 2018.
After forming a double scull with John Collins, he came fourth at both the European and World Championships in 2019, won the bronze medal at the Europeans in 2021, and finished just outside the medals in fourth at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Back in the single scull in 2022, he took the bronze medal at the World Cup I regatta, gold at World Cup III and came fifth at the European Rowing Championships in what was probably the most exciting final of the regatta.
©Peter Spurrier/Intersport Images
European Bronze Medallist Men's Quadruple Scull
World and European Silver Medallist Men's Quadruple Scull
World Bronze Medallist Men's Quadruple Scull
After finishing runner-up in the GB Rowing Team Trials, Graeme was selected in the men’s quadruple scull for the 2016 season alongside Peter Lambert, Sam Townsend and Angus Groom. They finished fifth at the European Championships in Brandenburg and then qualified for the final at the Lucerne World Cup. Peter had to withdraw through illness on the morning of the race but, with Jack Beaumont subbing in, the quad still won a superb silver medal. They finished off the podium at the Poznan World Cup, though, again having to settle for fifth place.
Graeme was selected in the boat for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games but was unfortunately taken ill just days before the regatta began and had to withdraw.
He had raced in the men’s quad throughout the Olympiad and helped to qualify the boat for Rio 2016 with a fourth-placed finish at the 2015 World Championships in Aiguebelette.
That was a good result following a season where injury and illness led to a number of changes to a boat that had been settled for the previous two years. Charles Cousins was injured just before the European Championships in Poznan but Jack Beaumont stepped in to help Graeme, Sam Townsend and Peter Lambert win a fine bronze medal and set a new championship record along the way.
Angus Groom replaced Jack in the quad that won an impressive gold at the World Cup in Varese but illness meant the crew did not race in Lucerne. Charles returned for the World Championships and helped the quad produce a storming second half to their final but they couldn’t quite catch the leading trio.
After beginning 2013 with a gold medal at the Sydney World Cup, the now familiar line-up of Graeme, Sam, Charles and Peter raced together for the first time at Eton Dorney. They finished fifth there before winning bronze at the World Championships in Chungju – the first-ever World medal for a GB men’s quad.
The crew continued to make great strides during 2014, winning silver at the European Championships in Belgrade before adding World Cup gold in both Aiguebelette and Lucerne. Mature and confident performances saw them win their heat and semi-final at the World Championships in Amsterdam to set up a showdown with Ukraine, who had beaten GB to the European title. The final was close-fought but Ukraine were just able to hold off a dramatic late surge from the Brits, who missed out on gold by just nine-hundredths of a second.
Graeme made the transition to rowing in 2008 while studying for a Biomedical Science Degree at Manchester University.
He had trialled for Sale Sharks’ Academy squad but, despite being 6ft 5in, was not considered physically big enough to play professionally in his preferred position. A friend then suggested he had the attributes to succeed in rowing and he successfully trialled for the GB Rowing Team Start Programme, going on to train under Hamish Burrell at the North West centre.
A breakthrough 2011 season, which included a number of domestic double scull wins, ended with Graeme making his GB Rowing Team debut in that boat at the European Championships in Plovdiv, finishing fifth.
He showed more promise on his World Cup debut in 2012, finishing a fine fourth in the men’s single in Munich. Graeme repeated that result at the European Championships in Varese.
Club: Agecroft RC
Boat: Men’s Squad
Coaches: Paul Stannard
Learnt to Row: Agecroft RC
Original Club(s): Agecroft RC
Original Coach(es): Hamish Burrell
Graeme has always participated in sport and represented his hometown of Preston in swimming and athletics while at school. He also excelled in rugby union, representing Lancashire in every age group from under-15 to under-20, and has completed the world’s longest downhill mountain bike race in the French Alps called Megavalanche.
Playing Gran Turismo on his PlayStation is one of Graeme’s ways of relaxing, along with watching Suits and Game of Thrones on TV. During the summer months he enjoys soaking up the sun by walking in the Chilterns or down the river with friends.
Graeme has recently “fallen in love” with the warm seas and tropical climate of South East Asia, where he enjoys scuba-diving and snorkelling. “The wealth of aquatic animals you can see is amazing.”
A fan of James Bond movies, Graeme’s ergo and fitness training is soundtracked by house and dance music “from the early noughties or something fresh out of Ibiza”.
Graeme is Lottery Funded through UK Sport.
Rower Graeme Thomas' Rio journey is over. He has to withdraw from the Games with illness
The GB Rowing Team’s one gold, two silver and a bronze medal world cup performance in Switzerland today was somewhat undermined by illness.
Stewart Innes and Alan Sinclair’s men’s pair semi-final win was one of the highlights today at the European Championships.
This weekend’s European Rowing Championships in Brandenburg, Germany will provide “a world-class stage” on which to launch the Rio 2016 Olympic racing season.