Todmorden rower Jess Leyden made history in Trakai, Lithuania, this week when she won Britain’s first ever gold medal in the women’s single sculls at the World Junior Championships.
The 18-year-old former Todmorden High School pupil gained her success in an event which attracted competitors from 58 countries and there were 27 rivals in her category.
After what looked like a slow first half to Monday’s race, the Hollingworth Lake RC sculler moved to the front and went on to put clear water between herself and second-placed Tatsiana Klimovich from Belarus.
Jess, who is coached by Ian John, clocked 7:49.96.
“It was a really fantastic gold for Jess”, said team manager John Layng.
“She paced her race well and many others front-loaded their race plan. She showed great maturity to focus on what she had to do.”
Leyden, who lives at Shaw Green, Todmorden, was Great Britain’s only medal winner in Lithuania. A 20-plus squad made the trip, with the help of National Lottery money, and others reached ‘A’ finals against tough opposition.
Jess was cheered home by her mum Sharon, who said: “There was a big contingent of British supporters for the whole team and we all sung when they played the national anthem after Jess’s success.
“This is a massive achievement for her - the ultimate she could have hoped for - and she has had lots of support from people in Todmorden.” Jess said the mid-race surge which had taken her from fourth to first had given her great confidence.
“Then I knew no-one else was going to do it,” she said.