Grainger has Trials “wow factor”

[img_assist|nid=2944|title=Matt Wells challenged Alan Campbell all the way at the Trials|desc=Photo: Peter Spurrier|link=none|align=right|width=322|height=263]Katherine Grainger took her eighth career title at the GB Rowing trials today. Her victory by seven seconds in the women’s single scull had the day’s "wow factor" as the three-times Olympic medallist has only been back in the sport since January after a long Olympic break.

"It’s been a tough three months but I’ve worked really well with my coach, Paul Thompson, to get it right", said Grainger after the win over second and third placed Anna Bebington and Annabel Vernon, both Beijing medallists, who fought a close battle with each other behind her.

Alan Campbell sealed victory in the equivalent men’s event but was pushed all the way by Olympic double scull bronze medallist, Matthew Wells.

"I’m pleased to win", said Campbell. "I always find the trials tougher than any World Cup. There is a lot of pressure".

Olympic champion Pete Reed made it five wins in a row in the men’s pair, racing today with Alex Gregory whilst his more usual partner and also Olympic champion, Andrew Triggs Hodge, continued his dalliance with a single scull in which he finished fourth behind Campbell.

One of the day’s more dramatic races came when Rob Williams came back from a length and a half down in the lightweight men’s single scull final to pip 2007 lightweight men’s four world champion, Paul Mattick, at the line. "With 100m to go I thought I might run out of room but we’ve been so close in training I knew it would be a close race", said Williams.

Olympic finalists Olivia Whitlam and Louisa Reeve stamped their authority on the women’s pair with victory by over four seconds and Sophie Hosking won the lightweight women’s single scull after a close race with Hester Goodsell and Andrea Dennis.

GB Rowing will hold a pre-season press conference on April 29th at the National Training Centre to announce crews for the first world cup of the season which takes place in May in Banyoles, Spain.

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RACE REPORTS

Katherine Grainger left her rivals at today’s GB Rowing trials wondering what secret ingredient fuels her racing performances. After all, the three-times Olympic champion only came back to training in January but still dominated a field which included three other Olympic medallists from the outset in today’s single scull final.

By 250m she had her nose in front. By 900m, she had a length lead. By the end no-one could touch her. Not even Anna Bebington whose strong performance in the final 350m gave her second place ahead of Annabel Vernon with Sarah Winckless in fourth and Beth Rodford fifth. Less than two seconds separated the second-to-fifth placed finishers in this race which shows the squad’s strength in depth.

Alan Campbell also took an early lead in the men’s single scull final. The Olympic finalist looked as if he might cruise to victory but Matt Wells, a former winner here, had different ideas. He kept in contention in the third 500m and had enough left at the end to challenge Campbell to the line.

"This year the standard in the sculling has been higher than ever before", said Campbell. "We’ve had so many people go under seven minutes and that’s not happened in the past".

Behind the leading duo a three-way battle developed between Ian Lawson, Andrew Triggs Hodge and Stephen Rowbotham. In the end, Lawson prevailed with Rowbotham just 14 hundredths of a second slower than Hodge.

Pete Reed said before the trials that he was very excited about pairing with Alex Gregory. Today’s final showed why. The duo were always going to be challenged by Olympic silver medallists Alex Partridge and Rick Egington. With just 250m gone, those were the two boats ahead of the field. By 750m gone Reed and Gregory had edged ahead and by the half-way mark they had moved out to a half-length lead.

"I think we won the race in the third 500m", said Reed afterwards. "We kept the rate slightly higher and moved ahead. Then we didn’t put in any fireworks in the final 500m, there was nothing special, we just kept going".

Gregory meanwhile called the experience of rowing with Reed as "the most enjoyable experience of my rowing career so far". The sculler turned sweep rower says that everything went to plan today and "it finished perfectly".

The equivalent women’s event was dominated from the mid-way point by Olivia Whitlam and Louisa Reeve. This duo were selected late for the Beijing Olympics last year after minimal time together. But the combination has grown into a potent force. Today they took the lead from their rivals but team-mates Jess Eddie and Alice Freeman at the 750m mark and then gradually edged away. Jo Cook and Vicky Myers, the early race leaders, battled with the Nottingham pairing of Monica Relph and Jacqui Round with the latter pair taking third place in 7:25.08.

"Last year my pairs partner withdrew just before the trials so I started on the back foot", said Reeve afterwards. "This year has been very different, it’s been nice to know what to expect but we’ve also been under pressure as we were the pair everyone wanted to beat".

Rob Williams, meanwhile, produced the comeback of the morning when he converted a 2.5 second deficit at 1500m to a 0.25 victory over Paul Mattick in the lightweight men’s single scull final in which Richard Chambers was third and Ben Rowe of Tees fourth.

Mattick seemed to have the race sewn up as he powered through the middle section to set up a comfortable lead. The gap seemed too big for Williams to convert.

"But I always have a bit of a sprint at the end", said Williams.

The lightweight women’s single scull final also produced a close race. Fractions of a second only separated the trio of Sophie Hosking, Andrea Dennis and Hester Goodsell as they drew ahead of fourth-placed Laura Greenhalgh in the second half of the race. Ultimately, it was Hosking who found something special in the final 200m to push ahead and take victory at the line in 7:44.72.

Her victory bellow showed how tough it had been. Afterwards, though, all three women were proud of the improvements that the lightweight women’s squad have made over the winter. "If you look at our percentages, they are now amongst the highest in the overall GB squad and we want to continue to try and be amongst the very best", said Hosking who has been juggling training with part-time work for Cognition Land and Water a remediation firm as has Goodsell who is Head of Music at The Elvian School in Reading.

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RESULTS
(club in brackets)

FINALS

OPEN

WOMEN

Pair

1. Olivia Whitlam (Agecroft)/Louisa Reeve (Leander) 7:14.71
2. Alice Freeman (Wallingford)/Jessica Eddie (Uni of London) 7:19.25
3. Monica Relph/Jacqui Round (Nottingham) 7:25.08
4. Jo Cook/Vicky Myers (Leander) 7:25.83
5. Vicky Bryant (Leander)/Heather Stanning (Army) 7:31.09
6. Leonora Kennedy (Thames)/Lindsey Morton (Nottingham) 7:32.27

Single scull

1. Katherine Grainger (St Andrew) 7:36.05
2. Anna Bebington (Leander Club) 7:43.32
3. Annabel Vernon (Marlow) 7:44.36
4. Sarah Winckless (Walbrook & Royal) 7:44.79
5. Beth Rodford (Gloucester) 7:45.11
6. Katie Greves (Leander) 7:48.92
7. Ro Bradbury (Westminster School) 7:59.25

MEN

Pair
1. Pete Reed (Leander)/Alex Gregory (Reading Uni) 6:29.13
2. Alex Partridge/Richard Egington (Leander) 6:31.28
3. Tom Wilkinson/Tom Burton (Leander) 6;33.75
4. Mohamed Sbihi/James Foad (Molesey) 6:35.35
5. Chris Bartley (Leander)/Bob Hewitt (Tees) 6:40.53
6. James Orme/George Laughton (Leander) 6:40.81

Single scull

1. Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers) 6:46.33
2. Matthew Wells (Leander) 6:47.76
3. Ian Lawson (Leander) 6:52.73
4. Andrew Triggs Hodge (Molesey) 6:54.60
5. Stephen Rowbotham (Leander) 6:54.74
6. Sam Townsend (Reading Uni) 6:59.12

LIGHTWEIGHT

WOMEN

Single scull
1. Sophie Hosking (London) 7:44.72
2. Hester Goodsell (Reading Uni) 7:46.28
3. Andrea Dennis (Reading Uni) 7:47.28
4. Laura Greenhalgh (London) 7:49.18
5. Jane Hall (Leander) 7:56.27
6. Stephanie Cullen (London) 8:07.36

MEN

Single scull

1. Rob Williams (London) 7:02.24
2. Paul Mattick (Leander) 7;02.49
3. Richard Chambers (Leander) 7:08.85
4. Ben Rowe (Tees) 7:13.27
5. Oliver Mahony (London) 7:20.37
6. Jonno Clegg (Leander) 7:20.39

B FINALS

OPEN

WOMEN

Pair

1. Gemma Akers/Vicky Thornley (Minerva Bath) 7:36.81
2. Louise Entwistle/Olivia Oakes (Uni of London) 7:37.61
3. Jenny Arnold/Helen Wood (Reading Uni) 7:42.00

Single scull

1. Natasha Howard (Tideway Scullers) 7:45.19
2. Mel Wilson (Molesey) 7:45.76
3. Lindsey Maguire (Wallingford) 7:47.70
4. Jenny Farmer (Molesey) 7:49.38
5. Ruth Walczak (Molesey) 7:54.23
6. Atlanta St John (Wallingford) 8:07.25

MEN

Pair

1. Tom Ransley/Henry Pelly (Cambridge Uni) 6:34.38
2. Tom Broadway (Leander)/James Clarke (London) 6:37.20
3. Will Laughton/Will Satch (Leander) 6:37.31
4. Matt Tarrant/Scott Durant (Oxford Brookes) 6:39.91
5. Stephen Feeney (London)/Chris Boddy (Tees) 6:42.15
6. Colin Williamson/Nick Clark (Leander) 6:44.03

Single scull
1. Marcus Bateman (Leander) 6:59.79
2. Charles Cousins (Reading Uni) 7:01.77
3. Bill Lucas (Reading Uni) 7:04.36
4. Brendan Crean (Agecroft) 7:08.15
5. Matthew Langridge (Northwich) 7:10.55
6. Tom Solesbury (ISIS) 7:13.94

LIGHTWEIGHT

WOMEN

Single scull

1. Katherine Copeland (Tees) 8:04.91
2. Elaine Johnstone (Tideway Scullers) 8:05.99
3. Ruth Sander (Mortlake AA) 8:09.97
4. Nikki Bartlett (Tees) 8:27.40

MEN

Single scull

1. Dave Jones (Leander) 7:18.23
2. Nick Fearnhead (Durham Uni) 7:18.30
3. Will Fletcher (Durham Uni) 7:21.42
4. Peter Chambers (Oxford Brookes) 7:24.85
5. Richard Dunley (London) 7:27.96
DNS Ross Hunter (Leander)

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