COUNTY rower Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne says the help of British rowing legend Dame Katherine Grainger helped her crew claim a bronze medal at the European Championships.

Hodgkins-Byrne, from St Weonards, also took bronze in the first World Cup regatta in Belgrade with her quadruple scull crewmates Holly Nixon, Jess Leyden and Beth Bryan.

But the foursome knew they would need to up their game if they were to compete with Europe’s best in the Czech Republic.

And the quad battled hard against a strong field to come away with a bronze medal, competing the 2,000m course in 6:26.54, finishing behind Germany and the Netherlands.

“I was only aware in the last few hundred metres where the other boats were around us,” said Hodgkins-Byrne.

“We stayed focussed on our boat.

"Our aim was to halve the time difference from Belgrade and then see where we are at the next World Cup, but it was really exciting out there.”

Granger, who retired from rowing this year having competed in five Olympic Games, has been active in her support for the young rowers in the women’s quad, visiting the national training centre in Caversham on a number of occasions to provide some expert guidance.

And Hodgkins-Byrne says the Scot has been able to pass on her knowledge to all four members of the crew, not just from the bank but by donning her rowing kit once more and getting involved in the boat.

“When we first started the project together she sat in the boat with us, so for me, making the calls, just being able to hear how she called it and the confidence she portrayed really helped me and taught me a lot of lessons,” Hodgkins-Byrne added.

The next event for the GB Rowing Team is the second World Rowing Cup regatta of the season in Poznan, Poland between June 16 and 18.

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