Ashley Cowley receives his gold medal on the podium.
Ashley Cowley receives his gold medal on the podium.

Rower Ashley Cowley struck gold as he led England’s senior team at the Home International in Cork.

The 21-year-old, of Balderton, competing at his fourth regatta, was named men’s captain and also the senior captain for the event.

He produced a starring performance in the men’s lightweight singles, coming away with gold to claim England’s sole senior men’s victory.

The former Newark Rowing Club member made a strong start to his race, but was put under late pressure as a Scottish rower began to pull closer.

However, a big effort in the final moments saw Cowley over the line in gold position.

“When I went out to Ireland, the main focus I had in my mind was to race in the single boat as it’s historically been the one I have loved,” Cowley said.

“I never initally intended on trialling for the event because I have been doing more pairs races over the last two years.

“Everything has fallen into place, and because it’s the one I care about it was a very special moment to get the win.”

Cowley said he was honoured to be named senior captain for the first time.

“It felt quite strange being one of the youngest members of the squad, and all of a sudden I’m chosen as captain,” he said.

“It was a huge honour. This was my fourth home international, and I am one of the more experienced members of the squad but it still came as a surprise.

“The special moment for me is when you are on the start line and the announcement that comes after your name isn’t your club, it’s England.

“Whether you are a captain or rowing for the first time it’s still a moment where everything starts to sink in.”

Cowley, who now trains at Molesey Rowing Club, was in action in two other races at the weekend, claiming bronze in both the doubles and quads races.

England’s senior men finished third overall in the competition, behind Ireland and Scotland.

He will next be in action at the Royal Canadian Henley, before building up his preparations ahead of the trials for the World Under-23 Championships in Greece next year.