Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Leander athletes dominate Tokyo bound Olympic squad

Leander athletes dominate Tokyo bound Olympic squad

LEANDER Club have 23 athletes included in the 45-strong Great Britain squad selected for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The squad, which was announced by the British Olympic Association on Wednesday, includes 37 Olympic debutants alongside eight returning Olympians.

Olympic silver medallist Polly Swann will be partnering Helen Glover in the women’s pair where they will be aiming to build on their recent European title when they race at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay. Glover will make history by becoming the first British rower to compete at the Games after having children.

Swann said: “It’s unreal. It’s one of those things — when you get nominated, you’re expecting it and then it sinks in and you realise what it means. It’s very special.

“Going to an Olympic Games is what we are all here for. I cried when the letter arrived, because I’ve been on such a journey this Olympiad after choosing to take time out working for the NHS during the pandemic last year.

“Being in the boat with Helen takes me full circle. I competed in my first World Championships with her and this is going to be my last Olympic Games and there’s something special about that.

“I love that the two of us have chosen to come back after time away and we’re doing it because it’s a sport we love and I think racing at this Olympics will mean a little bit more to both of us.”

Leander’s Jacob Dawson, Tom George, Charlie Elwes, Oli Wynn-Griffith, Tom Ford and cox Henry Fieldman will be joined by Josh Bugajski, Mohamed Sbihi and James Rudkin in the men’s eight where they will be aiming to build on this year’s European title.

Returning for her third Games is Rio 2016 silver medallist Vicky Thornley, who is realising her dream of racing in the women’s single sculls. The Leander sculler said: “When I started this journey in 2017 my long-term goal was to compete at the Olympics in the single, so to be selected in this boat is a really special moment.”

Looking to continue Team GB’s historic success in the men’s four are European and World Rowing Cup II Champions Ollie Cook, Rory Gibbs with Leander’s Matt Rossiter and Sholto Carnegie.

Speaking of making his Olympic debut, Rossiter said: “It’s what I’ve wanted for the last 20 years and it’s taken a few days for it to actually sink in but it feels pretty awesome. There is a phenomenal heritage of men’s fours from Great Britain but ultimately we want to go as fast as we can and write our own story.”

The selected women’s eight of Leander’s Fiona Gammond, Rebecca Edwards, Chloe Brew, Katherine Douglas and Emily Ford with Sara Parfett, Caragh McMurtry, Beccy Muzerie and cox Matilda Horn, will benefit from the experience and support of five-time Olympian and three-times Olympic silver medallist, Fran Houghton, who is sharing her knowledge and expertise with the crew.

The men’s quad, who won bronze at this year’s World Rowing Cup II, is made up entirely of Leander scullers in Harry Leask, Angus Groom, Thomas Barras and Jack Beaumont.

Other Leander athletes selected include Hannah Scott in the women’s quadruple sculls, John Collins with Agecroft’s Graeme Thomas in the men’s double sculls and Rowan McKellar and Karen Bennett in the women’s four.

Four spare rowers complete the Team GB rowing line-up.

British Rowing director of performance Brendan Purcell said: “When we qualified our 10 boats for the Olympic Games back in September 2019 we had no idea of the challenges that would lie ahead.

“We used the lockdown time away from competition to focus on ourselves and individual development. Since then, the group have thrived, topping the medal table at both the 2021 Europeans and the World Rowing Cup II.

“Obviously, this Olympic Games will be a totally different experience with it being the first time in over two years we’ll be competing against many crews from the rest of the world.

“We don’t have a real form line on them but we believe in the work we are doing and the results of our own performances and it’s a great opportunity for the coaches and athletes to go out there and write a unique chapter in the legacy of the British Rowing team in this unique year.”

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