Monday, 18 December 2017

Leander dominates World Championship squad

AS the rowing season reaches its annual climax it has been announced that 27 Leander athletes will compete as members of the GB team at this year’s World Championships.

AS the rowing season reaches its annual climax it has been announced that 27 Leander athletes will compete as members of the GB team at this year’s World Championships, to be held in three weeks’ time in South Korea.

Among the heavyweight men it’s the eight where chief coach Jurgen Grobler has decided to concentrate all his big guns but another crew reshuffle means that Olympic bronze medallist Will Satch, fully fit after hip surgery earlier in the year, now occupies the stroke seat.

Behind him the formidable line-up includes Olympic champions Alex Gregory and Pete Reed, with their fellow gold medallist from the four, Molesey’s Andy Triggs Hodge, moving from stroke to the six seat.

Together with Leander’s Dan Ritchie and Tom Ransley at bow and two, and Phelan Hill in the cox’s seat, the crew are hoping to regain the form that saw them win the Grand at Henley before missing a medal place the following week in Lucerne. There were few other surprises at the team announcement on Thursday, where three-times World Cup winners Polly Swann of Leander and Helen Glover of Minerva Bath were confirmed to race as the women’s pair. The two athletes have molded seamlessly into a world-beating combination, coached by Robin Williams, architect of Glover’s Olympic gold last year when she partnered Heather Stanning.

The women’s double features veteran Frances Houghton, partnered by Vicki Meyer-Laker, who won a gold medal in front of their home crowd at Dorney, while Vicky Thornley, coached by Jane Hall, contests the women’s single.

Four Leander athletes retain their place in the women’s eight, including Sarah Cowburn, Lou Reeve and Katie Greves as well as cox Zoe de Toledo.

The heavyweight men’s four is unchanged from the crew that won the Stewards’ Cup at Henley, with Leander’s Al Sinclair at bow.

Every crew found the going tough at the final World Cup regatta of the season, none more so than the Chambers brothers, Pete and Richard, racing together in the lightweight double after their silver medal success last year in the lightweight four. A straightforward gold in Sydney was followed by silver at Eton Dorney, but then France and Italy made their first appearance, forcing the Chambers into third place at Lucerne.

The lightweight four includes Leander’s Will Fletcher, Jono Clegg and Chris Bartley, together with Adam Freeman-Pask of Reading University, and the final Leander lightweight at the worlds will be single sculler Jamie Kirkwood, who recorded a personal best at Lucerne, and was unlucky to miss a medal by just 0.43 of a second.

The men’s quad includes Leander’s Charles Cousins, the sole survivor from the crew that reached the Olympic final, with Diamonds winner Pete Lambert at stroke. In the women’s event the GB entry, which includes Monica Relph and Ro Bradbury, will be looking to improve on the 10th place they earned at Lucerne.

Meanwhile Relph’s sister Pam, a Paralympic gold medallist last year in the mixed fours, is back in action as a member of the new look crew, coxed by Leander’s Oli James, who took another gold medal together at the Eton World Cup in June.

Leander chief coach Mark Banks has swapped his athletes in the men’s double, where Matt Langridge now occupies the bow seat with London’s Bill Lucas at stroke.

The GB international team has spent the last three weeks at different training camps in Europe. The women and lightweight men opted for their usual stay at Breisach, north of Basel on the river Rhine, while the heavyweight men retreated to the mountainous isolation of Lake Silvretta in the Austrian Alps.

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