Gold for GB Rowing Team’s Glover and Stanning

Gold for Helen Glover and Heather Stanning on the world stage can sometimes be taken for granted. They made it look easy once more in France today, successfully defending their world women’s pair title by a big margin.

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Gold for Helen Glover and Heather Stanning on the world stage can sometimes be taken for granted. They made it look easy once more in France today, successfully defending their world women’s pair title by a big margin.

Even in victory Stanning was talking about the improvements they needed to make and the hard work to come. “We have worked very, very hard and it’s exciting because we feel there are more improvements to come”.

Glover said: “We wanted to feel the pressure here of defending a title because that is what we will have to do in Rio”.

Sir David Tanner, GB Rowing Team Performance Director and part of the GB set-up since the 1990s, said of the win ahead of New Zealand and the USA: “That was utterly exceptional. In my book, that ranks as one of the best GB performances of all time”.

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James Foad and Matt Langridge added a silver in the equivalent boat behind the World and Olympic Champions, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond of New Zealand.

Both GB lightweight doubles also won silver. Charlotte Taylor and Kat Copeland capped their debut season by finishing within a third of a length of the defending World Champions.

Will Fletcher and Richard Chambers gave the stand-out 2015 crew and home-crowd favourites Stany Delayer and Jeremie Azou of France a run for their money before taking second ahead of the defending World Champions South Africa and the 2013 World Champions, Norway.

A bronze came from the men’s four of Scott Durant, Alan Sinclair, Tom Ransley and Stewart Innes in a race won by Italy. The quartet were doubly pleased with the podium finish after being called up late to the squad.

Only the men’s quadruple scull of Graeme Thomas, Sam Townsend, Charles Cousins andPeter Lambert finished outside of the medals. They produced a storming second half but could not catch the leading trio, headed by Germany.

“We have had an outstanding day with five medals from six boats and the men’s quad stepping up into fourth after their season of injury . I am very, very proud of the way our rowers have performed”, added Tanner.

Tomorrow’s racing includes the final of the women’s double scull with Katherine Grainger andVicky Thornley as well as the finals of the women’s eight and the men’s eight, the last race of the day, in which the much anticipated GB-Germany series could continue.

Racing starts at 12.00 UK time and the BBC will televise the racing on BBC Two from 12.00 – 14.15 UK time.

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RACE REPORTS

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning are the Olympic, World and European Champions and were the first GB crew in action in today’s finals.

They were drawn alongside Felice Mueller and Eleanor Logan of the USA who had won the opposing semi-final on Thursday. New Zealand’s Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler constituted the top contender – albeit beaten by the GB combination the semi-finals.

Glover and Stanning, coached by Robin Williams, made a blistering start. Within 250m they were three-quarters of a length ahead. The USA and Canada were amongst the closest in the chasing echelon.

Just before halfway the Canadians dropped off the pace whilst New Zealand moved up with the USA. Glover, from Penzance, and Stanning, born in Yeovil but now from Lossiemouth, were still piling on the pressure at the front. They were three seconds ahead as the second half began to unfurl with the Kiwis, as predicted, their closest rivals.

The gap was now emphatically “clearwater”. New Zealand moved up a length ahead of the USA but the race was already done. Glover and Stanning came home in 6:52.99 to take the win by two lengths – just outside their own world best time. New Zealand took silver in 6:56.75 and America the bronze in 7:00.55.

James Foad and Matt Langridge were next in action for the GB Rowing Team. The 2015 World silver medallists, unbeaten here through the heats, quarter-finals and semi-final, are the European Champions.

Eric Murray and Hamish Bond, the Kiwi World and Olympic Champions and unbeaten since 2009, were the favourites to win. Foad and Langridge had raced and beaten all bar the Kiwis and Milos Vasic and Nenad Bedik of Serbia, 2015 world cup bronze medalists in Lucerne, in the previous rounds.

Today Foad and Langridge got out well and by halfway were in second ahead of the Serbians and the Austrians. Meanwhlie, the New Zealanders powered away to take a multiple lengths lead out front.

Foad and Langridge dug in and the battle was now on with Serbia for second and third. It was a contest emphatically won by Foad and Langridge who came in home over a length ahead to take silver in 6:22.35. Serbia in bronze in 6:25.36.

“We didn’t want to get silver. It’s hard to take. But credit to them. We upped our game at training camp but they have upped theirs too”, said Langridge

Foad echoed the sentiment: “I’ve now got four silver medals. I am not here for silver any more, I wanted to win. I thought it would be a lot closer today. They are a class act’.

Will Fletcher and Richard Chambers were selected for the first time together in this boat for the 2015 season. They won world cup bronze in Varese and European silver but Fletcher missed out injured on the final at the Lucerne world cup.

Chambers is a 2012 Olympic silver medallists from the light four whilst Fletcher has previously won European silver and World U23 gold in the light men’s four. The boat is a good combination of experience and youth.

Today, without doubt, their biggest rivals were Stany Delayre and Jeremie Azou of France who have won everything so far this year in this event. However, the pedigree of the field was intense with the 2014 World Champions, James Thompson and John Smith, drawn in lane 1 and the 2013 World Champions Are Strandli and Kristoffer Brun in lane 2.

Fletcher and Chambers made a fantastic start and were out in front with the French for the entire first half. As the race moved into its final phase, the GB and French boats were neck and neck until the French found something special in front of their home grandstand to move out to three-quarters of a length.

Fletcher and Chambers were closing on them in the final sprint but ran out of time and space. They had enough to hold off Norway. Gold to France in 6:13.38 and silver to GB in 6:15.15. Bronze to Norway.

“We rowed the race we wanted to and now we need to find a few more metres for next year”, said Fletcher. “I am happy with that result today it was a good start for the boat”.

“The good thing about our event this season is that the results have switched and changed and no-one has really dominated”, said Charlotte Taylor of the lightweight women’s double scull in which she raced today’s final with Olympic Champion Kat Copeland. “Anyone’s game plan can win and if we are in the mix towards the end, I’ve got confidence in what we have got….in our turn of speed”.

Taylor and Copeland were drawn today in lane 5 alongside the New Zealand defending World Champions, Sophie Mackenzie and Julia Edward. Canada, silver medallists a year ago, were in lane 3.

In the first half of today’s race the GB Rowing Team duo from Bedford and Tees respectively were amongst the leading trio with South Africa and the New Zealand. Just before the final timing marker at 1500m the New Zealanders made their move and stretched out their lead. South Africa went with them and the GB combination were back in third and trailing the lead by two-thirds of a length.

As the race reached its zenith the GB boat found another gear, moved away from the South Africans and had enough pace to finish within half a length of the Kiwis who therefore kept their World crown.

Copeland said: “The first job was to qualify the boat for Rio this year. I also didn’t expect the depth of field here. It’s the hardest event I have ever done. So I’m really pleased with what we have done here”.

Taylor said: “I didn’t look out of the boat. It was all about seeing how well we could do by racing our own race. Today the Kiwis were good enough but now it’s game on”.

The 2015 men’s four was not selected until the final training camps due to injury and illness.Scott Durant, Alan Sinclair, Tom Ransley and Stewart Innes emerged from the mountain lake of Silvretta to take on the mantle of this historic boat for GB.

Durant and Sinclair were World silver medallists in 2014 in the coxed pair. Ransley was a gold medalist in the eight and Innes, a newcomer to the squad, had already won gold in the men’s eight. This, then, was an entirely different boat to the one which won gold for GB in Amsterdam in 2014.

Australia, fielding two 2013 World silver medalliists, and the Netherlands were the pre-race favourites. but there was all to play for. A good rhythm could see the GB crew onto the podium.

In the end they took a storming bronze behind Italy – popular and noisy winners – and were more than happy with the way they came up through the field and then held onto third place.

Sinclair summed up the pride in the boat when he said: “I am overwhelmed by how well our race went. To win would have, of course, been the dream but to come away with a medal with so many people doubting us is a really good feeling”.

Ransley said: “I am proud of this unit and the way it has developed race by race”.

2015 newcomer Innes added: “At the beginning of the year I don’t think anyone but me would have backed me to have been here and win a medal. Credit to Christian Felkel our coach for guiding us through all the stresses and strains. We could not have done it without him”.

Durant said: “I am very happy indeed. We had a great start at the European Championships. Since then it has not been the easiest of projects with lots of ups and downs. I always knew this boat was capable of winning a medal”.

Last up for GB in today’s finals were the men’s quadruple scull of Preston’s Graeme Thomas, Reading’s Sam Townsend, Charles Cousins from Cambridge and Maidenhead’s Peter Lambert. This was the line up that won World silver a year ago but also a crew who could not race together until the World Championships this year after a season hampered by injury and illness.

Germany and Lithuania had shown well at semi-final stage with the Ukraine, the reigning World Champions, failing at that hurdle.

From the outset the Germans laid down a marker and led throughout to win in 5:53.22. The Australians battled hard but fell just short and Estonia came through to take bronze. Behind the leaders the GB boat found the pace to move up from fifth to fourth, using their second half pace and a bucket-load of determination to come home in 5:57.82.

Earlier, the GB women’s quadruple scull of Frances Houghton, Jess Leyden, KrisTina Stillerand Melanie Wilson were second in the B final.

China took an early lead and at halfway the GB combination had the overlap on them in second but despite a valiant effort in the final 500m the Chinese took the verdict by just over a second.

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