Rio hopefuls face tough test
The nation’s top rowers will face one of their sternest tests yet this weekend as the GB Rowing Team whittles down its potential Rio 2016 squad.
Olympic Champions Alex Gregory, Pete Reed, from Gloucestershire, and Yorkshire’s Andrew T Hodge, coming back after a long lay-off, will be amongst those racing two consecutive time trials followed by side-by-side finals.
This trio of London gold medallists will race in a strong men’s pair field from which Gregory and Surbition’s Mohamed Sbihi are favourites to win.
Sbihi races at the weekend after a triumphant British Rowing Indoor Championships in which he smashed Sir Matt Pinsent’s 11 year old 2k indoor rowing record.
He talked of the emotion involved this weekend when he said: “”It is another important step towards Rio. The trials process is never fun – you are racing your teammates and friends – but it is important in making our team as strong as we can be for the summer. Of course there is tension, every day that passes is moving closer and closer to Rio and everyone wants to get the best result possible to strengthen their chance of going to Rio.”
The scene is also set for a top-line tussle in the open women’s single scull between Wrexham’s Vicky Thornley, winner of the last two GB trials, returning Olympic gold medallist Anna Watkins, from Leek, and her 2012 title-winning partner Katherine Grainger, from Glasgow, as well as challengers like London’s Melanie Wilson.
Penzance’s Helen Glover won the equivalent trial a year ago and will also be in the mix for top spot even though she and her Olympic Champion partner Lossiemouth’s Heather Stanning will be seeking selection into the sweep oar rather than sculling events in Rio.
Thornley summed up the tension when she said: “This is a really important trial being the last one before we enter 2016 and the last one before final Olympic trials in March. I am looking to finish this year with a really solid performance and show how I have improved.
“There is so much more at stake this season, the Olympics is what we do this all for. It’s very important that I bring my best at every trial to put myself in the best position to be in a boat with the best chance of a medal”.
On Saturday the open women’s title will be decided by accumulation of the two time-trial results with a 2km row back to the start in between the two tests.
In the open men’s single scull event, Sam Townsend, Jonny Walton and John Collins who took the top three spots in the autumn over a 5km distance. Charles Cousins, from Cambridgeshire, winner of last season’s final set of trials, is training fully but is not “quite ready” to race yet according to the coaching team.
Coleraine’s Alan Campbell is returning to the kind of form that saw him win a 2012 bronze and will be amongst the contenders to win on Saturday. Graeme Thomas, 2013 and 2014 World quad medallist will be in action after missing the autumn trials.
Brothers Richard and Peter Chambers, also from Coleraine and both 2012 lightweight men’s four silver medallists, were the fastest two finishers in October in the lightweight men’s single scull with Chester-le-Street’s Will Fletcher not far behind.
Imogen Walsh, from Inverness, got the better of Olympic Champion Kat Copeland, from Teesside, over the longer distance and, on Saturday, Putney’s Charlotte Taylor is also fit to race. These three women are among the top contenders for a seat in the only Olympic boat for lightweight women – the double scull.
Walsh said: “Trials are obviously quite nerve-wracking, but it’s also exciting, in that it’s an opportunity to prove to yourself and to others what you are capable of. Obviously, everybody’s minds are on selection and performance in the summer, but the only way to get to the position you want in the summer is to prove your worth in the trials in the winter.
“None of us in the team would be here if we didn’t enjoy racing, so while there is obviously a lot riding on our results across the season’s trials, for me anyway, trials are something to try and enjoy as well… Although I might not say quite that on Saturday morning!”.
Alongside trials for the Rio squad, a number of rowers will be seeking to impress the selectors and coaches in time for next year’s World U23 Championships in Rotterdam.
The nation’s top para-rowers will be put through their paces on Saturday in a closed test on indoor rowing machines (ergos).
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========================================================ENTRY LIST (* denotes U23): GB ROWING TEAM DECEMBER ASSESSMENT
*Tom Barras (Leander Club/Staines/07.01.94)
Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers School/Coleraine/09.05.83)
Frazier Christie (Leander Club/Bath/11.01.93)
John Collins (Leander Club/Whitton/24.01.89)
Angus Groom (Leander Club/Glasgow/16.06.92)
*Andrew Joel (Leander Club/Windsor/08.06.95)
*Callum Johnson (Tees RC/Truro/31.01.94)
Peter Lambert (Leander Club/Maidenhead/03.12.86)
*Chris Lawrie (Sir William Borlase GS BC/Bourne End/21.04.97)
Nick Middleton (Leander Club/Henley-on-Thames/12.08.88)
*George Stewart (Molesey BC/Esher/14.04.95)
Jonathan Stimpson (Nottingham RC/Gex/18.07.90)
Graeme Thomas (Agecroft RC/Preston/08.11.88)
Sam Townsend (Reading Univ BC/Reading/26.11.85)
*Sam Twine (Reading Univ BC/Tavistock/06.01.94)
Jonny Walton (Leander Club/Leicester/06.10.90)
Pair (from bow to stroke)
Matt Gotrel (Leander Club/ Chipping Campden/01.03.89)/
Cameron Buchan (Leander Club/Dunipace/03.12.92)
Chris Boddy (Leander Club/Thornaby-on-Tees/16.11.87)/
Phil Congdon (Leander Club/Bury St. Edmmunds/06.06.89)
Timothy Clarke (Leander Club/Henley on Thames/07.04.91)/
Callum McBrierty (Leander Club/Edinburgh/13.08.92)
William Warr (Leander Club/Tunbridge Wells/12.03.92)/
Matt Rossiter (Leander Club/Newbury/25.09.89)
Barnaby Stentiford/ (Leander Club/Ipplepen/06.02.91)
Sam Whittaker (Molesey BC/Shrewsbury/04.03.92)
Karen Bennett (Leander Club/Edingburgh/05.02.89)
*Alice Bowyer (Reading RC/Hilldale/26.02.97)
Rosamund Bradbury (Leander Club/Banstead/17.12.88)
Beth Bryan (Tees RC/Stockton on Tees/23.04.93)
*Lucy Burgess (Agecroft/Swindon/27.04.94)
Emily Carmichael (Leander Club/Cheltenham/29.05.92)
Olivia Carnegie-Brown (Oxford Brookes Univ BC/Oxford/28.03.91)
Becca Chin (Agecroft RC/Deganwy/11.12.91)
Katherine Douglas (Leander Club/Edingburgh/03.08.89)
Jessica Eddie (London RC/Durham/07.10.84)
Donna Etiebet (Imperial College/London/29.04.86)
Debbie Flood (Leander Club/Henley on Thames/27.02.80)
*Emily Ford (Newcastle Univ BC/Holmes Chapel/08.11.94)
*Georgia Francis (Imperial College BC/Newbury/18.08.94)
Helen Glover (Minerva Bath RC/Penzance/17.06.86)
Lucinda Gooderham (Leander Club/ Garboldisham/09.06.84)
Katherine Grainger (Marlow RC/Glasgow/12.11.75)
Katie Greves (Leander Club/Oxford/02.09.82)
*Holly Hill (Isle of Ely RC/Gossington/23.01.94)
*Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne (Reading Univ BC/ Hereford/01.10.94)
Frances Houghton (Univ of London – Tyrian Club/Oxford/19.09.80)
Aimee Jonckers (Molesey BC/Maidenhead/07.07.90)
Nicole Lamb (Newcastle Univ BC/Hexham/20.01.93)
Zoe Lee (Imperial College BC/Richmond, N. Yorkshire/15.12.85)
*Jessica Leyden (Leander Club/Todmorden/22.02.95)
Caragh McMurtry (Coalporters/Southampton/22.08.91)
Vicky Meyer-Laker (Leander Club/Premnay/18.03.88)
Holly Nixon (Leander Club/Enniskillen/07.12.93)
Holly Norton (Leander Club/Johannesburgh/01.01.93)
Louisa Reeve (Leander Club/London/16.05.84)
Heather Stanning (Army RC/Lossiemouth/26.01.85)
Tina Stiller (Tees RC/Yarm/23.06.87)
Anna Watkins (Leander Club/Leek/13.02.83)
Melanie Wilson (Imperial College BC/London/25.06.84)
Melissa Wilson (Cambridge Univ Women’s BC/Guernsey/10.06.93)
Chris Bartley (Leander Club/Wrexham/02.02.84)
*Joel Cassells (Oxford Brookes Univ BC/Coleraine/15.06.94)
Peter Chambers (Oxford Brookes Univ BC/Coleraine/14.03.90)
Richard Chambers (Leander Club/Coleraine/10.06.85)
Jono Clegg (Leander Club/Maidenhead/14.07.89)
*Matthew Curtis (Edinburgh University BC/Durham/14.10.95)
*Alastair Douglass (Molesey BC/Shepperton/22.06.95)
*Edward Fisher (Leander Club/Nottingham/16.04.94)
Will Fletcher (Leander Club/Chester-le-Street/24.12.89)
Hugh Gallie (Agecroft/Barcelos, Portugal/06.09.89)
John Hale (Imperial College/Cambridge/28.02.88)
*Gavin Horsburgh (Edinburgh Univ BC/Lochwinnoh/26.08.97)
*Jonathan Jackson (Leander Club/Henley-on-Thames/02/06/95)
Jamie Kirkwood (Leander Club/Newcastle/30.08.89)
Thomas Marshall (Molesey BC/Mold/12.03.94)
Samuel Mottram (Leander Club/Stoke Mandeville/14.11.94)
Steven Parsonage (Leander Club/Norwich/16.01.96)
Timothy Richards (Imperial College BC/Goring-on-Thames/17.05.92)
Sam Scrimgeour (Imperial College BC/Kirriemuir/28.01.88)
Sam Tuck (Molesey BC/Peterborough/26.07.93)
Charles Waite-Roberts (Leander Club/Basingstoke/06.11.92)
Kat Copeland (Tees RC/Stokesley/01.12.90)
Emily Craig (University of London BC/Mark Cross/30.11.92)
Gemma Hall (Wallingford RC/Wargrave/10.04.92)
Robyn Hart-Winks (Edinburgh Univ BC/Kirriemuir/17.10.93)
Francesca Rawlins (Leander Club/Uckfield/08.07.86)
Brianna Stubbs (Wallingford RC/Poole/13.07.91)
Charlotte Taylor (Putney Town RC/Bedford/14.08.85)
Ruth Walzcak (Molesey BC/Rochdale/15.09.88)
Imogen Walsh (London RC/Inverness/17.01.84)
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Dates for your Diary (as at 7 December, 2015)
GB Rowing Team second assessment, Caversham (includes para-rowing)
GB Rowing Team third assessment, Boston, Lincs
GB Rowing Team para-rowing third assessment, Caversham
21-23 (NOTE CHANGE)
GB Rowing Team Olympic Trials, Caversham
GB Rowing Team Paralympic Trials, Caversham
6 or 7 TBC – NEW
Announcement of the team for the European Championships
GB Rowing Team World, World U23 and FISU trials, Caversham
Rowing World Cup 1, Varese, Italy. GB not competing
Varese International Regatta, Italy (para-rowers only)
European Rowing Championships, Brandenburg, Germany
Final Olympic qualifying regatta, Lucerne, Switzerland
Rowing World Cup II, Lucerne, Switzerland
Holland-Beker Regatta, Amsterdam (U23s only)
Announcement of crews to compete at the Olympic Games
Rowing World Cup III Poznan, Poland
29 June – 3 July
Henley Royal Regatta
Announcement of crews to compete at the Paralympic Games.
GB v France J16 Match, France (juniors only)
Coupe de la Jeunesse, Poznan, Poland (juniors only)
Olympic Games rowing regatta, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
World, World U23 & World Junior Championships, Rotterdam, Netherlands
World University Rowing Championships, France
Paralympic Games rowing regatta, Rio, Brazil
Hanse Cup, Germany