Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Cousins leads the way as Leander athletes shine

A WIN by single sculler Charles Cousins against Olympic bronze medallist Alan Campbell was the Leander highlight at the GB

A WIN by single sculler Charles Cousins against Olympic bronze medallist Alan Campbell was the Leander highlight at the GB trials last weekend, when 15 of the club’s athletes reached the A finals.

And with a second place for Frances Houghton in the women’s singles, and three scullers in the lightweight men’s final, these helped further to dispel Leander’s image as a centre for heavyweight men. The club’s women and lightweight rowers have now been a significant part of Leander’s success for many years.

Campbell led to 1,500m in the men’s final, ahead of Leander’s Matt Langridge and Pete Lambert, but Cousins came up fast in an outside lane and pushed on hard to come through and win. But Cousins, an Olympic finalist in the men’s quad at Eton Dorney, was modest about his victory. He said: “Let’s not get carried away, it’s only one race. I’m really happy with the win but it’s a bit of a surprise really.”

Whilst disappointed to have been pipped by Helen Glover in the women’s singles, Houghton was content with her return to racing form. She said: “I’m pleased with my racing even if I came off the wrong side of a close finish today, that’s sport. I feel good with how it’s been going generally.”

In a race that also included Leander’s Vicky Thornley, Lou Reeve and Vicky Meyer-Laker, Glover led for the majority of the 2,000m final, and despite pressure from Houghton the Olympic champion upped the rate to cross the line 0.2 seconds clear.

In the lightweight men’s singles Oxford Brookes’ Pete Chambers won, pushing his Leander-based brother and fellow Olympic silver medallist Richard back into third place, with Will Fletcher and Jamie Kirkwood in fourth and fifth.

Olympic champion Andy Triggs Hodge from Molesey triumphed yet again in the men’s pairs, partnered this year by his clubmate Mo Sbihi, while Leander’s Alex Gregory and Pete Reed, two more London gold medallists, finished in second place. In training the two pairs had been trading blows at the top of the squad, but Sbihi and Hodge blasted out to a first-half lead and never let go.

Another Leander crew, Tom Ransley and Dan Ritchie, looked set to take third place until the final 150m when University of London’s Nathaniel Reilly-O’Donnell and Leander’s Al Sinclair found the pace to overhaul them with a few strokes to go.

Speaking after the trials Leander’s chief coach Mark Banks was delighted with the performance. He said: “It’s been really good to see our athletes perform well in all boat classes. Fifteen athletes in the finals is a great result, but it’s not just our big names who have performed well this weekend it’s also a major step-up for some of our development athletes.”

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