Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Development academy bears fruit for world cup squad

Development academy bears fruit for world cup squad

THIRTY Leander athletes have been selected as members of the GB rowing team that will context the first World Cup regatta of the season in Belgrade in 10 days’ time.

And as testament to the club’s success in bringing athletes up to the required level, 19 members of that squad have come from Leander’s development academy.

They include George Rossiter and Harry Glenister, whose performance at GB Trials two months ago was strong enough to earn them an invitation to the national training centre in Caversham. They now get their first chance to impress by racing the men’s pairs in Belgrade.

Following a disappointing world championships last year in Florida, chief men’s coach Jurgen Grobler is looking to consolidate his squad as the timetable looms ever closer to Tokyo 2020.

For this regatta, at least, he has placed all his big guns into the eight, including Olympic champion Will Satch, whose recovery from heart surgery continues, and Molesey’s Moe Sbihi, a Rio gold medallist in the four. Leander’s Angus Groom and Jack Beaumont are back in the double scull, the boat class in which they won bronze at the U23 world championships in 2014.

Meanwhile Harry Leask, another development athlete, gets his first outing in the single scull, leaving Tom Barras, the surprise bronze medallist last year in Florida, to take his seat in the star-studded quad, alongside clubmates John Collins and Jonny Walton, with Agecroft’s Graeme Thomas.

The Leander captain, Vicky Thornley, is back in the single scull, the boat in which she took the European title last year before going onto win silver in Florida behind Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland.

Chief women’s coach Paul Thompson is covering all bases by doubling up 14 sweep women into an eight, two fours, and two pairs, with Leander’s Karen Bennett, an Olympic silver medallist in the eight in Rio, anchoring the lead four.

There’s also a first international outing for Emily Ford and Emily Ashford, two more athletes whose trials performance earned them a path to Caversham.

With the lightweight four now out of the Olympic programme the GB team have concentrated entirely on the lightweight doubles, with Leander’s Sam Mottram partnering Agecroft’s Zak Lee-Green in the men’s event.

Belgrade marks the first of the three World Cup regattas which act as stepping stones through the season, culminating in the world championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, in September.

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