London 2012 Olympic preview: Tanner says GB rowers are in great shape

Britain’s rowers were out in force training today at the sport’s Olympic competition venue at Eton-Dorney – just 48 hours before the first races take place in the 2012 Olympic Regatta.

Team GB rowing Team Leader David Tanner said of the London 2012 Olympic Games rowing squad, which has 47 rowers and five reserves,: “We’re all in good shape, we’ve all arrived healthy and we’re ready to go.

“Our recent training camps have gone well. We managed to escape the not-so-nice bits of the British summer and that was a big plus with great water conditions, particularly at our tuning camps in Southern Europe.

“I am sure that this is the best team that we have brought to a Games and I am confident that we will deliver on the water.”

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning will be first to the start line for Team GB in the women’s pair in the session starting at 09.30 on Saturday. Glover, a former PE teacher from Cornwall, and Stanning, an Army Captain from Lossiemouth, have been world silver medallists in each of the past two years.

Twice Olympic silver medallists Frances Houghton, racing at her fourth Games, and Debbie Flood, contesting her third Games, feature in the women’s quad in the same session alongside relative newcomer Melanie Wilson and 2010 World Champion, Beth Rodford.

The British team will contest a further six heats in that opening session.

1992 Olympic gold medallist Greg Searle has already confessed that he will have a lump in his throat when he races the opening heat of the men’s eight in a multi-talented crew including cox Phelan Hill, Constantine Louloudis at stroke, Olympic silver medallists Matthew Langridge, Ric Egington and Alex Partridge as well as world silver medallists James Foad, Tom Ransley and Mohamed Sbihi.

“It’s a privilege to row with such a talented crew”, said Searle. “It will feel different to 20 years ago but it will also be the same. I wanted to win then and we are ambitious to do the same here”.

Sbihi added: “I feel like we have definitely improved since the last world cup and I feel we are in a good place going into the Games. But it’s a very strong field, to be honest, anyone can make a final and anyone can make a medal.

“So I think it’s all about us effectively. I’m not really fussed about what the Germans or the Americans of the Canadians or others have done. It’s about what we have done and I trust in what we have done.”

Britain’s lightweight men’s four features the Chambers brothers, Peter and Richard, from Coleraine in Northern Ireland. They are the first set of brothers to race in the same crew since the Searles’ win in Barcelona with cox Garry Herbert.

The brothers are joined in the lightweight men’s four at Eton-Dorney by Rob Williams, who completed a PhD in crystallography just a month ago, and Welshman Chris Bartley, a talented photographer and rowing coach. This crew won the season’s final world cup but know they will face stiff opposition, particularly from China, in this fiercely competitive event.

Richard, the elder of the two brothers, said: “We’ve had a good couple of camps and we’ve worked hard. We know that ours is a very competitive event and that even at semi-final stage we’ll see some real knuckledusters of races.”

All three men’s sculling boats will be in action on the opening day. Alan Campbell makes a trio of Coleraine connections when he races the men’s single scull. Campbell has been on the world cup and World Championships podium several times since making the final in Beijing.

Bill Lucas and Sam Townsend, both graduates of a GB Rowing Team “Start” talent identification and development system, are the new-look British double scull this season. The Devon-Reading combination are looking to improve on their world cup performances here.

“We have had two really good training camps in the past six weeks,” said Lucas. “The work camp in the mountains went really well and then we did some speed work in Portugal. We’ve made some technical progress.”

Townsend will marry team-mate Natasha Page, who races in the women’s eight at the Games, later next month.

Stephen Rowbotham and Matt Wells, Beijing double scull bronze medallists, race in 2012 in the men’s quad. They are joined by Olympic debutant Charles Cousins and Tom Solesbury who rowed in a pair in Beijing.

The final crew in action on opening day will be the men’s pair of Will Satch and George Nash. The talented duo, both former youth medallists, made an impact in their debut senior season this year and will look to upset the pre-existing form book here.

A further three boats will race opening heats on the second day – the women’s eight, lightweight women’s and men’s double scull. The latter will be raced by defending Beijing winners Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter.

Meantime, the women’s double scull, featuring world champions Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins, and the men’s four with world champion Alex Gregory and three Beijing gold medallists Andrew Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed and Tom James on board will race for the first time on Monday.

Watkins said today that the GB team were looking forward to racing, were enjoying the Olympic set-up and felt quite relaxed: “We have a very good set up within our own team and it’s a very familiar environment, we are keeping ourselves to ourselves.”

Grainger added: “For us it’s just a case of fulfilling our potential, which is what you want to do in an Olympic race, to be the fastest crew in the world. It’s more about going as fast as we possibly can – the actual result we don’t focus on because that will take care of itself. It’s more about how we race.”

Tom James, from the men’s four, said: “We’ve made some good changes to how we row and I think we learnt from our mistakes [at the last world cup] in Munich.”


Crews listed Bow to Stroke followed by
(Club, Home Town, Date of Birth)


Helen Glover (Minerva Bath, Penzance, 17/06/86)
Heather Stanning (Army RC, Lossiemouth, 26/01/85)
Coach: Robin Williams

Olivia Whitlam (Agecroft RC, Warrington, 16/09/85)
Louisa Reeve (Leander Club, London, 17/05/84)
Jessica Eddie (Univ of London BC, Durham, 07/10/84)
Lindsey Maguire (Wallingford RC, Edinburgh, 15/01/82)
Natasha Page (Gloucester RC, Hartpury, 30/04/85)
Annabel Vernon (Leander Club, Wadebridge, 01/09/82)
Katie Greves (Leander Club, Oxford, 02/09/82)
Victoria Thornley (Leander Club, Wrexham, 30/11/87)
Caroline O’Connor (cox) (Oxford Brookes Univ BC, Ealing, London, 25/04/83)
Coach: Nick Strange

Double Scull
Anna Watkins (Leander Club, Leek, Staffs, 13/02/83)
Katherine Grainger (St Andrew BC, Aberdeen, 12/11/75)
Coach: Paul Thompson

Quadruple Scull
Melanie Wilson (Imperial College BC, London, 25/06/84)
Debbie Flood (Leander Club, Guiseley, W. Yorks, 27/02/80)
Frances Houghton (Leander Club, Oxford, 19/09/80)
Beth Rodford (Gloucester RC, Gloucester, 28/12/82)
Coach: Ade Roberts

Jo Cook (Leander Club, Sunbury-on-Thames, 22/03/84)
Emily Taylor (Leander Club, Lincoln, 28/06/87)


George Nash (Molesey BC, Guildford, 02/10/89)
Will Satch (Leander Club, Henley-on-Thames, 09/06/89)
Coaches: Christian Felkel & John West

Alex Gregory (Leander Club, Wormington, 11/03/84)
Pete Reed (Leander Club, Nailsworth, Glos, 27/07/81)
Tom James (Molesey BC, Wrexham, 11/03/84)
Andrew Triggs Hodge (Molesey BC, Hebden, N. Yorks, 03/03/79)
Coach: Jürgen Grobler

Alex Partridge (Leander Club, Alton, Hants, 25/01/81)
James Foad (Molesey BC, Southampton, 20/03/87)
Tom Ransley (York City RC, Cambridge, 06/09/85)
Richard Egington (Leander Club, Knutsford, 26/02/79)
Mohamed Sbihi (Molesey BC, Surbiton, 27/03/88)
Greg Searle (Molesey BC, Marlow, 20/03/72)
Matt Langridge (Leander Club, Northwich, 20/05/83)
Constantine Louloudis (Leander Club, London, 15/09/91)
Phelan Hill (cox) (Leander Club, Bedford, 21/07/79)
Coaches: Christian Felkel & John West

Single Scull
Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers School, Coleraine, 09/05/83)
Coach: Bill Barry

Double Scull
Bill Lucas (London RC, Kingswear, Devon, 13/09/87)
Sam Townsend (Reading Univ BC, Reading, 26/11/85)
Coach: Mark Earnshaw

Quadruple Scull
Stephen Rowbotham (Leander Club, Winscombe, Somerset, 11/11/81)
Charles Cousins (Reading Univ BC, Willingham, Cambs, 13/12/88)
Tom Solesbury (Leander Club, Petts Wood, Kent, 23/09/90)
Matthew Wells (Leander Club, Hexham, Northumberland, 19/04/79)
Coach: Mark Banks

Marcus Bateman (Leander Club, Torquay, 16/09/82)
Cameron Nichol (Molesey BC, London, 26/06/87)


Double Scull
Sophie Hosking (London RC, Wimbledon, 25/01/86)
Katherine Copeland (Tees RC. Ingleby Barwick, Stockton-on-Tees, 01/12/90)
Coach: Paul Reedy


Peter Chambers (Oxford Brookes Univ BC, Coleraine, 14/03/90)
Rob Williams (London RC, Maidenhead, 21/01/85)
Richard Chambers (Leander Club, Coleraine, 10/06/85)
Chris Bartley (Leander Club, Chester, 02/02/84)
Coach: Rob Morgan

Double Scull

Zac Purchase (Marlow RC, Tewkesbury, 02/05/86)
Mark Hunter (Leander Club, Romford, Essex, 01/07/78)
Coach: Darren Whiter

Adam Freeman-Pask (Imperial College BC, Windsor, 19/6/85)

David Tanner: Team Leader
Maurice Hayes: Equipment Manager
Ann Redgrave: Doctor
John Tetley: Boatman
Mark Edgar: Physio / Head of Rowing Medical Service
Caroline Searle: Press Officer
Sally Brown: Physio
Maggie Netto: Asst. Team Leader *
Liz Arnold: Physio
Jo Bates: Administrator *
Karen Burn: Physio *
Mark Homer: Sports Scientist
Craig Williams: Sports Scientist
Chris Shambrook: Psychologist *
Alistair Patterson: Performance Analyst *

* Non-Accredited Team Support



For interview requests with Team GB rowers and performance personnel contact Press Officer Caroline Searle on 07714 078658 or 07831 755351 or email



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