WITH every crew through to the last 12 in their event, and a gold medal already to their credit in the para-rowing fours, the GB team at the World Championships in Korea are optimistic about the weekend’s chances of further success.
A total of 26 Leander athletes have made the long journey to Chung-ju, a two-hour drive east of Seoul, as members of the GB team.
Despite a disappointing performance at the World Cup regatta in Lucerne, just one week after a very successful Henley, the team have used their training camps in Europe to good effect. The turnaround was amply demonstrated by the GB men’s eight, with Olympic gold medallists Pete Reed and Alex Gregory on board, who stormed off the blocks to win their heat and qualify direct for Sunday’s final. With Olympic bronze medallist and former Shiplake schoolboy Will Satch at stroke the crew looked unstoppable as they led from start to finish, pushing the American gold medallists in Lucerne into the repechages.
The first medal for the British team came on Wednesday in the para-rowing mixed coxed four, with Paralympic gold medallists Pam Relph of Leander and Naomi Riches from Marlow on board.
With Henley’s Oliver Hester at 3 and coxed by another Leander athlete, Oli James, the quartet saw off the Italian challenge to take a well deserved win. Earlier in the week it was very much business as usual for Leander’s Polly Swann and Olympic champion Heather Glover in the women’s pairs. Together the duo have taken three successive gold medals during the season’s World Cup series and are highly fancied as Britain’s best chance of the world title come the final on Saturday.
Also qualified direct for the semifinals are Frances Houghton and Vicky Meyer-Laker who won their heat of the double sculls by seven seconds clear of New Zealand, while single sculler Vicky Thornley took a longer path to her own semi, qualifying by winning her repechage on Wednesday.
Also looking strong are the Chambers brothers, Pete and Richard, in the lightweight double scull. After taking Olympic silver in the lightweight four, the Ulstermen have had the chance to race the double, and already have a silver and bronze medals to their credit. Winning their heat earlier in the week gave them a straight path to the semi, but to take gold they will first have to get past the World Cup winners from New Zealand.
The men’s lightweight four is another boat with definite promise, but the competition in this boat class is especially intense, as reflected by Germany’s elimination on Wednesday. Leander’s Will Fletcher, Jono Clegg and Chris Bartley are joined by Adam Freeman-Pask of Reading University in the bow seat, and second place in Monday’s heat behind Denmark gave them a strong start.
One of the highlights of Wednesday’s action was the GB women’s eight, stroked by Olivia Carnegie-Brown and coxed by Zoe de Toledo, who rowed a solid race to lead from start to finish and qualify direct for their final.