GB faces tough test in Linz
Great Britain’s 57 rowers, competing in 20 boat classes, will face some of the toughest opposition in the world at this weekend’s season-opening World Cup in Linz, Austria, starting on Friday with finals on Sunday (1-3 June).
More than 880 athletes in 380 boats have entered the event. Germany, with 37 boats, and China, with 27 boats, will be amongst the biggest squads in action.
This is the first of three world cups in a season which will culminate in the world championships in Munich in August which doubles as the Olympic qualifying regatta.
Great Britain’s team includes the men’s four (Steve Williams, Alex Partridge, Peter Reed and Andy Hodge) and the women’s quadruple scull (of Debbie Flood, Katherine Grainger, Annie Vernon and Frances Houghton). Both crews, sponsored by Camelot, are reigning world champions and last season’s overall world cup winners – although Vernon is a newcomer to the women’s line-up this season, having won her place through the GB Senior Rowing Trials and winter-long assessments and tests.
Olympic champion Steve Williams put the season into perspective for his crew when he said: "It’s going to be a tough season. When you’re unbeaten and world champions everyone pins a target on you and takes aim. The positive for us is that we feel we’ve still got a few seconds in the tank and that we weren’t pushed to the very limit last season".
Katherine Grainger, already twice an Olympic silver medallist and three-times world champion, is focussed after a hard winter of training. Her crew were pipped to the post at the 2006 World Championships by a Russian crew who were later disqualified.
The British quartet only became aware of their re-instatement as world champions, having also won the title in 2005, in the New Year. "There were some dark moments before that when we pulled apart the race to see where we had gone wrong", she said. "But in the end, we view it as a positive. It certainly motivated us in training".
Stephen Rowbotham and Matt Wells, in the Siemens-backed men’s double scull, will also be in international action in Linz for the first time since winning a bronze medal in the men’s double scull at the World Championships last season. The "quiet men" of the British team know that they will face a quality field in this tough event but are going to Linz with confidence: "Winning a medal at the World Championships last year shows that we have the ability. Now our aim is to get on the podium consistently. British sculling has never been stronger", said Wells recently.
Alan Campbell also goes to the starting block this weekend in the single scull – an event in which he won the overall world cup title last season and one which has attracted the highest number of entries in Linz with 41 contenders.
Zac Purchase and Tom Lucy are two new names to watch this weekend. Purchase, already a world champion in the lightweight single scull, has stepped up into the Siemens-sponsored lightweight men’s double this season – an Olympic boat. Tom Lucy, meanwhile, is one of the youngest rowers, aged 19, ever to have received a world cup call up. He competes in the Siemens-backed men’s eight.
Hugo Lee joins Lucy as a new name in the GB men’s eight which will be stroked by Alastair Heathcote of the British Army who will be making his world cup debut as will Georgina Menheneott, and Louise Reeve from the world-famous Leander club.
Colin Smith, winner of world cup silver in Lucerne last season with Tom James, teams up at this first world cup regatta with Matt Langridge. And GB fields a brand-new men’s quadruple scull alongside a revamped lightweight men’s four as well as a second men’s open weight four.
Helen Casey partners former World U23 Champion in the lightweight women’s double scull whilst Alison Knowles and Natasha Howard have emerged from the open weight women’s sweep squad trials and tests to form a pair.
At the season’s second world cup, in Amsterdam, from June 22-24, GB will be looking to enter another strong team. In Amsterdam, GB will also be able to race an adaptive four, sponsored by Siemens, because FISA, the sport’s world governing body, is offering a race for this Paralympic category at a world cup for the first time and GB intends to support FISA’s move.
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GB CREWS FOR FIRST WORLD CUP OF 2007
LINZ, AUSTRIA, 1-3 JUNE
(listed bow to stroke with club/home town/date of birth in brackets after name)
Alison Knowles (Thames RC/Bournemouth/27.3.82)/ Natasha Howard (Tideway Scullers/West Runton/3.9.80)
Baz Moffat (Thames RC/Bradford/8.4.78)/Jess Eddie (Uni of London/Durham/7.10.84)/Georgina Menheneott (Mortlake, Anglian & Alpha
RC/North Bradley, Wilts /18.12.78) Louise Reeve (Leander/…./16.05.84)/Beth Rodford (Thames RC/Burton-on-Trent/ 28.12.82)/Carla Ashford (Thames RC/Northallerton/13.3.79)/ Katie Greves (Uni of London/Oxford/2.9.82)/Natasha Page (Reading Uni/Hartpury/30.4.85)/Caroline O’Connor (Oxford Brookes/ Ealing/25.4.83)
Colin Smith (Leander/Henley on Thames/3.9.83)/Matt Langridge (Leander/Northwich/20.5.83)
Four – two boats
Steve Williams (Leander Club/Cheltenham/15.4.76)/Peter Reed (Leander Club/Nailsworth, Glos/27.7.81)/Alex Partridge (Leander Club/Alton, Hants/25.1.81)/Andy Triggs Hodge (Molesey BC/Hebden, N.Yorks/3.8.79)
Marcus Bateman (Leander/Torquay/16.9.82)/Tom Parker (OUBC/Winchester/24.10.82)/Kieran West (CUBC/West Byfleet/ 18.9.77)/James Orme (Leander/Colchester/1.4.84)
Jonno Devlin (Oxford Brookes/Putney/17.3.76)/Tom Stallard (Leander/Welwyn, Herts/11.9.78)/Tom Lucy (Oxford Brookes/ Monmouth/1.5.88)/Hugo Lee (Oxford Brookes/Jedburgh/5.3.84)/ Josh West (Leander/Santa Fe/25.3.77)/Richard Egington (Leander/Knutsford/26.2.79)/Robin Bourne-Taylor (Army RC/Oxford/22.7.81)/ Alastair Heathcote (Army RC/London/18.08.77)/Acer Nethercott (OUBC/Harlow/28.11.77)
Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers/Coleraine/9.5.83)
Matt Wells (Leander Club/Hexham, Northumberland/19.4.79)/
Stephen Rowbotham (Leander Club/Winscombe, Somerset/11.11.81)
Single scull (two boats)
Andrea Dennis (Wallingford RC/…../03.01.82)
Sophie Hosking (Durham Uni/Wimbledon/25.01.86)
Double scull (two boats)
Helen Casey (Wallingford RC/Oxford/6.2.74)/
Hester Goodsell (Rob Roy/Cambridge/27.6.84)
Jane Hall (Leander/Caversham/20.10.73)/
Mathilde Pauls (Imperial College BC/…../26.09.83)
Matt Beechey (Leander/Worcester/3.4.77)/Daniel
Richard Chambers (Oxford Brookes/Coleraine/10.6.85)/
James Lindsay-Fynn (London/Trim/29.9.75)/Paul Mattick
(Wallingford/Oxford/25.4.78)/James Clarke (Durham Uni/
Alistair Leighton-Crawford (Tideway
Mark Hunter (Leander Club/Romford, Essex/1.7.78)/
Zac Purchase (Marlow RC/Tewkesbury, Glos/2.5.86)