Thursday, 25 May 2017

Leander athletes overcome conditions to dominate GB trials

Leander athletes overcome conditions to dominate GB trials

LEANDER athletes dominated the GB trials last weekend, where new recruits to the national team shone brightly against the established stars of Rio.

The club’s heavyweight men took the top seven slots in single sculls, where last year’s U23 contender Tom Barras led the way home ahead one second clear of Olympic double sculler John Collins, while Leander captain Nick Middleton came home in third place.

Sixth and seventh slots went to Harry Leask and Rowan Law, members of last year’s winning Queen Mother Challenge Cup at Henley. As the leading U23 scullers in this year’s field they put themselves in strong contention for GB selection later in the season.

Leander also took the 1-2-3 in the women’s event where Holly Nixon, world champion in women’s fours, took first place in women’s singles, eight seconds clear of Rio silver medallist Vicky Thornley, with Jess Leyden a further 12 seconds back in third place. In the men’s pairs Leander’s Stewart Innes, who partnered Al Sinclair to fourth place in Rio, teamed up with Oxford Brookes’ Mat Tarrant to take first place at Boston. They finished three seconds clear of a strong performance by Leander’s Tim Clarke and Tom Ford who beat Olympic gold medallists Will Satch and Moe Sbihi back into third.

In the women’s pairs Olympic silver medallist Karen Bennett partnered Katherine Douglas to take first position ahead of Holly Hill and Melissa Wilson from Cambridge University, while third place went to Leander’s Fi Gammond and Holly Norton.

“It felt good – it helps being in a pair with your best mate,” said Katherine Douglas after her win.

The combination only came together 10 days ago after the athletes’ previous partners, Zoe Lee and Caragh McMurtry, were ruled out through injury.

Douglas added: “I had to change the way I rowed, but we went off first and rowed really well. Fi and Holly are a quick pair, so if we’d been beaten by them we wouldn’t have been upset, but it was good that we got the win.” Racing at Boston took place in bitterly cold conditions, the norm for the East Anglian trials venue. Only the best performers from last weekend will be invited to final trials at Caversham in April, before athletes in contention for the 2017 season will be decided.

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