Monday, 23 July 2018

Leander athletes dominate the final leg of GB trials

LEANDER athletes were once again on top form for the final leg of the GB trials

LEANDER athletes were once again on top form for the final leg of the GB trials held last weekend at Caversham.

Single sculler Vicky Thornley beat Olympic champion Katherine Grainger to win the women’s event while Charles Cousins and Jamie Kirkwood repeated their winning ways in the heavy and lightweight men’s sculls.

In the men’s pairs the Leander captain Alex Gregory partnered Molesey’s Moe Sbihi to record first place.

Thornley burst out of the start to take the lead after 100m and was one length ahead at the halfway mark. After easing out her advantage she crossed the line four lengths clear of Grainger, with Frances Houghton of University of London in third and Leander’s Jess Leyden, the former junior world champion, in fourth.

“I was really pleased, that race went to plan and it was definitely my best rowing of the weekend” said Thornley afterwards.

Rumours now suggest the prospect of Thornley and Grainger being selected for the double scull for the 2015 season. For heavyweight sculler Cousins it was business as usual, after he won for the third year in a row. World U23 medallist Angus Groom won Saturday’s time trial, when Leander athletes took the top eight places, but Cousins never looked in danger come Sunday’s final. Graeme Thomas of Agecroft took second place in a tight battle ahead of Pete Lambert, with Angus Groom just 0.03 seconds behind in fourth.

Leander’s lightweight sculler Jamie Kirkwood completed a return to form, following a knee injury, to win the lightweight singles final. His was the most exuberant celebration of the day as he punched his boat and slapped the water in delight. In second place was Kirkwood’s doubles partner and clubmate, Will Fletcher, while Olympic bronze medallist Richard Chambers was third.

Gregory and Sbihi came out top for the second year running in a star-studded men’s pair final. The duo, both reigning world champions in the men’s four, soon took a length out of a high-quality field and never lost control of their lead. Behind them Constantine Louloudis, fresh from Oxford’s Boat Race triumph, and Olympic men’s four champion Pete Reed, fired on all cylinders with 100m to go to nudge past 2012 Olympic bronze medallists George Nash and Will Satch to take second. The result was remarkable given they only had five days together to prepare.

Alex was typically unassuming after his win. He said: “That was possibly one of the hardest races of the year for us, against our mates, our team mates, our work colleagues. There was lots of pressure on us as the lead pair and we’ve been feeling it for the last three weeks. That was really important.”

Meanwhile chief coach Mark Banks added: “It was a really good weekend for Leander â?? our GB guys performed as usual, but our club athletes really were way above all expectations.”

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