Friday, 20 July 2018

Leander athletes gunning to secure place at next year’s Rio games

AS the GB rowing team makes its way from training camp to the World Championships in

AS the GB rowing team makes its way from training camp to the World Championships in France, their numbers have been swelled by some Leander additions to the entry list.

The GB women’s four, coached by Jane Hall, includes Leander’s Karen Bennett, Holly Norton and Lucinda Gooderham alongside Agecroft’s Rebecca Chin. Also included in the team is a lightweight men’s quadruple scull in which Leander’s Sam Mottram will occupy the three seat.

The additions to the team raise the Leander tally to 33 athletes, who face some tough competition when racing gets under way on Sunday.

The regatta, hosted on the picturesque Lake Aiguebelette in the Haute Savoie, is not only the culmination of the rowing calendar year, it is also the main Olympic qualification regatta, with the top finishers in each boat class earning their country a place at next year’s Rio Games.

One of the most eagerly anticipated events at the regatta will be the final of the men’s eights, which will see the British world champions go head-to-head with Germany, the 2012 Olympic gold medallists.

Germany took the European title early in the season before the GB men came back with narrow wins at both Varese and Lucerne.

The corresponding women’s boat, with five Leander athletes on board, has consistently challenged the world’s top boats this year so far, but will be up against the odds-on favourites from the USA and their long term rivals from Canada.

With the eight taking on the mantle of lead GB men’s boat the new-look four now includes Leander’s Al Sinclair, Tom Ransley and Stewart Innes alongside Scott Durant of Oxford Brookes.

Ransley is a reigning world champion from the GB eight, while Sinclair and Durant won world silver last year in Amsterdam, steered by Molesey’s Henry Fieldman in the coxed pair.

It’s not just the able-bodied rowers who face a stern test in France â?? the regatta also offers the Paralympic athletes the chance to qualify their boat for next year’s Games. In the mixed coxed four Great Britain are the crew to beat, with Leander’s Pam Relph the sole survivor from the line-up which took Paralympic gold at the London Games. Along with Dan Brown of Upper Thames, Nottingham’s Grace Clough, James Fox of UL and their Leander cox, Oli James, the four are going for their third successive world title. In achieving their customary dominance this season they set a world best time in winning gold at the Varese World Cup.

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