sport

Tanner leads Nethercott tributes

GB Rowing performance director Sir David Tanner led the tributes to Olympic silver medal-winning cox Acer Nethercott, who has died aged 35.

His death followed a recent illness and was confirmed on the GB Rowing Team's official website, with Tanner describing Nethercott as "the top British cox of his time".

Nethercott coxed the British men's eight to silver at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, finishing narrowly behind reigning champions Canada, having already won World Championship bronze in 2007.

He had been in contention to cox the men's eight at London 2012 but the role was given to Phelan Hill.

Tanner told britishrowing.org: "It is very sad news. Acer was the top British cox of his time. He coxed our excellent silver medal winning eight at Beijing 2008.

"He had an exceptional period with the GB Rowing Team until illness in the past Olympiad."

Harlow-born Nethercott's rowing career began at Oxford University, where he was the cox in three men's Boat Races, forming part of the winning team in both 2003 and 2005.

He then coxed the GB men's eight in the 2005 World Cup series, taking a bronze medal at Eton before claiming fifth place at the World Cup finals in Lucerne.

A fourth-placed finish at the World Championships in Japan followed that year before the team took fifth place in Munich and sixth in Lucerne in 2006.

Nethercott subsequently formed part of the British men's eight which finished fifth in the final of the 2006 World Championships at Eton.

The Linz World Cup in June 2007 saw Nethercott cox the eight to fifth place, followed by a bronze medal at the World Cup in Amsterdam and bronze at the World Championships in Munich

The chairman of British Rowing, Di Ellis, said she was "deeply saddened" by his death.

"Acer was a young man who always appeared as an independent spirit with a sense of fun but once in the boat was a determined competitive cox for his crew whether club, university or country," she said.

Garry Herbert, the Olympic gold medal-winning cox from Barcelona 1992, was one of several who used Twitter to pay their respects.

He tweeted: "A privilege to have known him, he lived up to the meaning of his name in every way."

Two-time Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell tweeted: "Weekend of sporting upsets put into perspective by terrible passing of Acer Nethercott. Silver Men's 8, Beijing, died today aged 35. RIP."

Molesey Boat Club in Surrey, where Nethercott was a member, tweeted:

"All very sad at Molesey BC this morning with the tragic news that Acer Nethercott has passed away.

"RIP Acer, you'll be sorely missed."