Friday, 15 December 2017

Leander athletes dominate Rio rowing squad

WHEN the GB Olympic Rowing Team was announced at the River and Rowing Museum last week

WHEN the GB Olympic Rowing Team was announced at the River and Rowing Museum last week a total of 23 Leander athletes and coaches were included in the line-up.

After a highly successful European Championships earlier in the season, there were no surprises among the crews announced by Mark England, Team GB’s Chef de Mission.

Leander captain Alex Gregory will defend his Olympic title in the men’s fours, assisted by Molesey’s George Nash and Moe Sbihi, and Constantine Louloudis of Oxford University in the stroke seat.

Speaking after the announcement, Gregory said: “Today marks the end of three-and-a-half years’ preparation, and the last run-in to the Olympic Games – it’s what we all signed up for.” Leander’s Richard Chambers, a London 2012 silver medallist in the lightweight four, will race the lightweight double with Will Fletcher, maintaining the line-up which earned GB Olympic qualification in France at last year’s world championships.

Chambers’ younger brother, Peter, who represents Oxford Brookes, retains his place in the four in which he was also a silver medallist alongside Leander’s Chris Bartley. They are joined by Mark Aldred of London, and Jono Clegg, another Leander athlete.



Looking ahead to Rio, Bartley said: “I’m very much looking forward to seeing what we can do as part of Team GB in the next two months and especially at the end of our journey at the Lagoa in Rio.”

Leander’s Zoe de Toledo will cox the women’s eight who have already been crowned European champions and World Cup silver medallists in Lucerne. The crew features four Leander athletes, including Frances Houghton who is set for her fifth Olympic Games appearance, while 2013 women’s pair world champion Polly Swann will enjoy her first Olympic outing after missing London 2012 due to injury.

Team GB will have a strong sculling squad in Rio where the men’s quad, silver medallists in Lucerne, looks to have the strongest medal prospect. The crew includes Leander’s Peter Lambert and Angus Groom, with Sam Townsend of Reading University and Agecroft’s Graeme Thomas, while Jonny Walton and John Collins, coached by Leander’s Mark Banks, will contest the men’s double scull.

The men’s eight is also back to full strength after illness marred their performance in Lucerne, and is only one of six crews of any nationality heading to Rio with the security of three successive world titles behind them.

A group of 12 men’s sweep rowers have been named to form the eight, pair and two reserves. The eight, where places look set, includes London 2012 and Beijing 2008 gold medallist Pete Reed as well as London 2012 bronze medallists Tom Ransley, Will Satch and Matt Langridge.

Meanwhile Nathaniel Reilly O’Donnell of University of London and Mat Tarrant of Oxford Brookes, who were world cup winners in Varese in early May, will have a private selection battle for the pairs nomination at Poznan this weekend with Leander’s Al Sinclair and Stewart Innes, the European silver medallists.

Omitted from the tem announcement were Vicky Thornley and Katherine Grainger, whose double scull had been disbanded following a lacklustre performance at the European Championships. Both athletes had trialled for the women’s eight, but missed the cut by the narrowest of margins.

However Sir David Tanner, the GB High Performance Director, was adamant that both athletes would row in Rio.



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