The GB Rowing Team for the European Championships in Brandenburg was announced today. Speculation in the run-up had all been about would Jurgen Grobler prioritise the men’s 4 or the men’s 8? In the end there is little to choose between the two boats in terms of priorities. But the headline news will be the men’s four with Alex Gregory, Moe Sbihi and George Nash returning to the boat they raced in 2014. They are joined in the stroke seat by Stan Louloudis in a move that was widely predicted and much anticipated.
The men’s 8 sees the return of Andy Hodge in the six seat with Will Satch at stroke and Matt Langridge moving from the pair into the 7 seat. Behind Hodge is Pete Reed (the first time since the World Championships in 2011 that they’ve been next to each other in a boat for an international regatta). Also returning to the 8 is Tom Ransley along with Matt Gotrel, Paul Bennett and Scott Durant. Coxed by Phelan Hill it’s a fearsome line-up that offers as much of a chance for gold in Rio as do the M4-
Andy Hodge said that having an enforced break in 2015 has reinvigorated him “I wish I’d had the courage to take a break in 2013…it’s given me the chance to spend time with the family, being a dad and getting a job. It’s enabled me to sort out my life for after Rio. But I’m in a great position and set a personal best in the weights and am producing my best erg scores since London so it’s a really exciting prospect”.
On the sculling side Alan Campbell retains his spot in the single despite speculation that he would move to a crew sculling boat. David Tanner said that he was tried in a number of combinations but didn’t make any of them go “particularly fast “.
The men’s double remains the same as 2015 with John Collins and Jonno Walton. Angus Groom replaces the injured Charlie Cousins returning to the boat that won GB’s first M4X gold medal at the Varese World Cup last year. He joins Sam “Shire Horse” Townsend, Graeme Thomas & Pete Lambert. They will be relishing testing themselves against the best in Europe, especially the Germans and Estonians.
For the lightweight men there is no change to the LM2X with Will Fletcher and Richard Chambers hoping to go one better this year following their silver medal last year. With an extra year under their belt they will be major contenders both in Brandenburg and Rio. Speaking to Fletcher he said “last year was our first season together and we had no expectations, this year there is more pressure but we’ve done all the hard work and now we can put it into practice and have some fun racing”.
With all the recent discussions about the future of the LM4- as an Olympic event, GB have named Chris Bartley, Mark Aldred, Jono Clegg and Pete Chambers in what could be the last ever GB LM4-
Sam Scrimgeour and Joel Cassels miss out on a place in the LM4- but will race the LM2-.
In the women’s boats there is a lot of consistency in the small boats with both the W2- of Glover and Stanning and the W2X of Katherine Grainger and Vicki Thornley continuing from 2015.
There have been changes in the W8 with Polly Swann and Fran Houghton joining the boat. For Fran it will be her 5thOlympic Games, but her 1st as part of the sweep squad “I actually prefer sweep” said Houghton “you have to work so closely with the person in front of you, you have to be two halves of a whole….I’m as excited at the prospect of my fifth Olympics as I was for my first”. Both she and Swan bring a huge amount of experience and firepower into the boat that they will hope will get them in the mix with the New Zealanders & Canadians in chasing down the dominant USA crew.
There are no change in the lightweight women’s squad from 2015, with Charlie Taylor and Kat Copelnad racing the LW2X and Imogen Walsh in the LW1X.
David Tanner revealed that the target for Rio is to win 6 medals “as a minimum”. For the European championships the only target is to match the 10 medals won last year. Given the strength in depth of the British squad these targets look eminently achievable.