Friday, 30 October 2020

Leander athletes set to dominate Olympic trials

FORTY-SIX athletes from Leander Club are set to take part in the Great Britain Olympic assessment rowing trials which start today (Friday).

The three-day programme, which comprises a 2,000m time trial and side-by-side racing, will take place at the Redgrave and Pinsent Rowing Lake in Caversham until Sunday.

The trials are an invitation-only event and Leander has the highest number of athletes taking part. The next highest from a single club is just eight.

Those taking part include Leander captain Jack Beaumont, who raced in the final of the Olympic quadruple sculls in Rio in 2016 and is again in the men’s sculling category.

Vicky Thornley, who is a previous club captain, is also competing. She won a silver medal in the double sculls with Katherine Grainger at Rio but has now switched to the single scull.

Will Satch, who has recovered from a severed tendon in his right shoulder is also in contention for a place in Tokyo.

He is looking to add a second gold medal to the one he won in Rio where he was stroke of the men’s eight.

Mark Banks, Leander’s director of rowing and chief coach, said: “It is phenomenally phenomenal — absolutely amazing.

“All the athletes will believe that they can get there but there are only so many places. I would like to think that we could get more than 30 to Tokyo and we have a very strong chance of doing that.

“If you look at past Olympics, in 2004 we had about 20 athletes, in 2008, about 19, it 2012 we had 24 and in 2016 we had 32. That is an incredible jump and I would like to think we would have about 32 athletes going this time around. This is something that Henley should be proud of.”

Banks says part of the reason behind their success is the impact of schools and universities. He said: “We have got to pay tribute to them because they helped nurture these athletes in their early years. Without this, it would have made our job a lot harder to take them to the next level.”

Banks has also praised the performances of former Shiplake College pupil Satch, who is in the men’s sweep category, and Holly Nixon, who is in the women’s sculling category. Both returned to the international fold after suffering serious injuries.

He said: “Will and Holly have done fantastic to come back into the fold. When Holly is at full fitness she is a match for anybody. When you go out of the team due to injury, it is hard to get back there. Rowing is not a ball sport, like football, cricket or rugby, where often you are born with that skill and coming back to fitness is easier.

“Rowing is an endurance sport and every day you miss a training session your opposition is getting a level above you.

Banks says he is also looking forward to seeing Thornley, whom he described as “the number one Great Britain sculler”.

The Leander athletes and the categories they are competing in are as follows:

Men’s sweep — Sholto Carnegie, Jacob Dawson, Charlie Elwes, Tom Ford, Tom George, Harry Glenister, Stewart Innes, Tom Jeffrey, James Johnston, James Robson, Matt Rossiter, George Rossiter, Will Satch, Alan Sinclair and Ollie Wynne-Griffith.

Women’s sweep — Karen Bennett, Chloe Brew, Sam Courty, Alice Davies, Susie Dear, Katherine Douglas, Emily Ford, Fiona Gammond, Natasha Harris White, Heidi Long, Rowan McKellar, Holly Norton, Anastasia Posner, Polly Swann, Hattie Taylor, Annie Withers and Jo Wratten.

Men’s sculling — Tom Barras, Jack Beaumont, John Collins, Seb Devereux, Angus Groom, Pete Lambert, Harry Leask, Samuel Mottram and Jonny Walton.

Women’s sculling — Georgina Brayshaw, Jessica Leyden, Holly Nixon, Vicky Thornley.

Henry Fieldman will be attending the trial as a cox.

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