Thursday, 23 November 2017

Strong Leander contingent leading charge for trophies on home waters

FOLLOWING their absence from last year’s regatta, which clashed with their pre-Olympic training camp, the GB international crews are back at Henley in force, helping to raise Leander’s entries to a massive 84 athletes in 27 crews.

Leading the charge for trophies are the GB men’s and women’s eights, recently returned from the World Cup regatta in Poznan, where they took bronze and silver respectively.

Seven Leander athletes will compete in the men’s crew, looking to regain the Grand, while the GB women’s crew in the Remenham Cup includes Leander’s Katherine Douglas, Jo Wratten, Fi Gammond and Anastasia Chitty, as well as cox Erin Wysocki-Jones. In the Stewards’ Cup the GB men’s four, including Will Satch and Matt Rossiter, are fresh from their silver medal in Poznan, while the Leander crew in the new event for women’s fours recorded their first success together with a win at Henley Women’s Regatta.

The GB national training centre has continued to recruit Leander’s top athletes into the system, so an entry in the Ladies’ Plate has not been possible this year. Instead the leading men are entered into the Visitors’ Cup, where their prospects are looking healthy following their recent win in elite fours at Marlow Regatta.

There are just two entries in the Queen Mother Cup where the all-Leander GB men’s quad take on New Zealand in a straight final. Pete Lambert, John Collins, Jonny Walton and Jack Beaumont won World Cup gold in Poznan and are odds-on favourites to beat the Kiwis, who finished down the rankings in the B final.

Leander has three entries in the Princess Grace Cup, including the top GB quad, which won the bronze medal at last month’s European Championships. Holly Nixon, Jess Leyden, Beth Bryan and Reading’s Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne, will face the European silver medallists from Netherlands, stroked by Olympic silver medallist Nicole Beukers.

There’s also a composite with Upper Thames, but it’s the presence of Olympians Debbie Flood and Katie Greves in the third quad that is causing ripples along the towpath. Competing as Sir William Perkins and Wallingford the silver medallists are climbing into the boat with two 15-year-old students from Sir William Perkins to help inspire the next generation of athletes.

Leander has a record tradition in the Prince of Wales Cup for club quad sculls, and their six-year winning sequence was only broken by defeat in last year’s final. Looking to bring the trophy home again will be Rowan Law, Harry Leask, Harry Glenister and Andy Joel, who were elevated to the Queen Mother Cup last year and duly won the trophy before going on to Rotterdam as the GB U23 crew. Competition has been fierce for places in the leading Leander crew to contest the Fawley Cup for junior quads, but Tom Ballinger, Cameron Forsythe, Matt Peters and Robbie Crowther raced elite quads for the senior experience and did well to reach place fifth overall at Marlow.

In the Silver Goblets the GB pair includes Sam Arnot and Tom Jeffery, both of whom have raced the GB men’s eight earlier in the season, while Seb Devereux is home from university in the USA and will partner Sam Meijer of Elizabethan in a second pair.

In the single sculls European champion Vicky Thornley is firm favourite for the Princess Royal Cup, where her clubmate Emily Carmichael will first have to qualify, despite racing the GB double in Poznan.

Meanwhile former GB lightweight Jamie Kirkwood has stepped out of retirement to contest the Diamond Sculls along with former New Zealander Adam Ling.

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