Britain today named 41 rowers in 11 boats to contest the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing – the largest TeamGB contingent since 1992 and reflective of the nation’s recent increased strength in depth in this traditionally strong sport for Britain at the Games.
GB has also qualified a men’s pair for the Games with the names for this boat to be announced in the next few weeks, bringing the overall total to 43 rowers in 12 boats.
Amongst GB’s potential medal contenders will be the reigning world champions in the women’s quadruple scull as well as the men’s four who were world champions in 2005 and 2006.
Britain also has chances to succeed through the crews who have won world cup gold this year – the men’s single, double, eight and lightweight double as well as the women’s double – and its 2007 world champion lightweight men’s four.
The squad won seven Olympic class medals at last year’s World Championships but has had an injury-disrupted build-up to the Games this season.
“The Olympic Games bring out the best in every athlete whatever the sport”, said GB Performance Director David Tanner. “Everyone will be trying to peak at the right time on the right day, including the Chinese hosts who have emerged in the last four years to be a formidable force in our sport. We go to Beijing confident but aware of the size of the task ahead”.
Steve Williams (gold), Frances Houghton, Debbie Flood, Katherine Grainger (silver), Sarah Winckless and Elise Laverick (bronze) are the returning Athens 2004 medallists in the squad.
The youngest athlete is Tom Lucy, aged 20, and Sarah Winckless is the oldest, aged 34.
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CREW BY CREW
GB Rowing’s women’s quadruple scull has had a remarkable four years since Athens where GB won silver. In 2005 the newly-formed crew, after the retirement of Alison Mowbray,
disrupted a long-term German dominance of this event to take the world title in Gifu, Japan.
The quartet – then formed of Katherine Grainger, Sarah Winckless, Frances Houghton and Rebecca Romero – went on to race on home water at the Eton world championships, this time with Debbie Flood as a replacement for Romero. GB were devastated to come second to Russia but were later elevated to world champion status once more after a Russian crew member was found to have earlier tested positive for a banned substance.
In 2007 the World Championships moved onto Munich where Annie Vernon, a graduate of the sport’s own talent development scheme, came into the crew in lieu of Winckless. They dominated their final from the outset against opposition from Germany and China to take the gold.
For all four women this is an opportunity to make history. “I’ve made no secret that the Olympic gold is the missing one from the set”, said Grainger recently. “That’s the one we want”. Britain has never won an Olympic gold in a women’s rowing event.
GB Rowing’s men’s four, an event in which GB is the defending Olympic gold medallist, were also world champions in 2005 and 2006. For a remarkable 27-race run they were unbeaten in this event until the final of the World Championships in Munich last year where they finished fourth. This year there has been a degree of upheaval through injury to the season’s chosen line-up of Tom James, Steve Williams, Peter Reed and Andy Triggs Hodge. The crew came together finally for the season’s last world cup in Poznan, Poland, last weekend where they won silver and showed they are back on track for Beijing. Earlier they won world cup gold in Munich, with Tom Lucy replacing Tom James and were eighth in Lucerne when Triggs Hodge was also injured.
Steve Rowbotham and Matt Wells, the GB selections in the open men’s double scull, were world cup winners and silver medallists at Munich and Lucerne this year respectively before missing last weekend’s world cup as a precaution because of a slight injury to Rowbotham. Over the past four years – which has included a World Championships bronze medal at Eton in 2006 – this duo has been consistent world cup medal winners.
Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter are their equivalents in the lightweight men’s double scull. They began the 2008 season as bronze medallists from the 2007 World Championships and as twice silver medallists in the 2007 world cup. They ended the 2008 season as winners of the world cup series after an unbeaten run which included a thrilling victory against the 2008 world champions from Denmark in Poznan last weekend.
This duo has gelled in the two years since the Eton World Championships in 2006 – at which Hunter narrowly missed out on the lightweight double scull final with James Lindsay-Fynn whilst Purchase took gold in the non-Olympic lightweight men’s single scull.
James Clarke, James Lindsay-Fynn, Paul Mattick and Richard Chambers came together as the GB lightweight men’s four for the first season in 2007. In that year they underlined their immediate potential by taking a full set of world cup medals – bronze in Linz, silver in Amsterdam and gold in Lucerne – before going on to become world champions in Munich.
This season they won silver in Munich but have been at the back of the field in the two subsequent finals and still have to regain their 2007 form.
Alan Campbell, part of the GB men’s quadruple scull four years ago in Athens and a world cup medal winner in this same boat in 2005, has since moved to the men’s single scull to some considerable effect. In his debut year of 2006 he took the world cup title overall and in 2007 he won two world cup silvers before taking fourth place in the World Championships final. This year Campbell began his world cup campaign with gold but was fourth in Lucerne after which he picked up an infection which kept him out of the final world cup last weekend in Poznan.
GB won women’s double scull bronze in Athens four years ago through Elise Laverick and Sarah Winckless. In 2005 Laverick teamed up with Debbie Flood because Winckless had moved into the quadruple scull. They won world cup bronze and were fifth at the World Championships. At the Eton 2006 World Championships Anna Bebington and Annie Vernon came together in this boat class to take fourth place, after world cup gold and silver earlier that year.
For the Munich World Championships last year Bebington teamed up with Laverick to take bronze after an injury-interrupted season for Bebington. This year, after differing GB combinations, Bebington and Laverick are once more the chosen duo. They have been building up their performance over the past two world cups and took a strong gold in Poznan at the weekend – Laverick’s career first world cup gold.
The Great Britain men’s eight has seen several transformations over the course of the past four years, reaching a high point in 2007, taking World Championships bronze. This year the crew has featured Alex Partridge, world champion in the men’s four in 2005 and 2006, as well as Matthew Langridge and Colin Smith, winners of World Championships bronze last year in the men’s pair.
Both Alastair Heathcote and Colin Smith have been in the stroke seat this year for different regattas. Former world champion Josh West, Tom Stallard, former world coxed four gold medallist, and Rick Egington, who made his international senior debut in 2003, have consistently been amongst the members of this crew which is coxed by Acer Nethercott.
The GB eight were in good form last weekend and took gold in the world cup at Poznan with a strong performance to beat Germany.
GB Rowing has yet to name the athletes for the pair in Beijing whilst final fine-tuning is being undertaken.
In Athens four years ago the men’s eight were ninth and the men’s pair were seventh. At the season’s final world cup Tom Solesbury and Robin Bourne-Taylor formed a pair. Last season the men’s pair of Colin Smith and Matt Langridge were World Championships bronze medallists in a race style characterised by second half storming sprints from the back of the field.
The GB women’s eight were also bronze medallists at the 2007 World Championships in Munich after a year of highs and lows. Formation of a women’s eight for the 2005 season marked the introduction of a number of new names to the senior squad who have since become regular contenders.
Carla Ashford , Alison Knowles, Natasha Howard and former world U23 medallist Jess Eddie are amongst these athletes. Natasha Page and Beth Rodford were part of a GB women’s pair in 2007 but have since returned to the eight and Katie Greves moved latterly into the stroke seat of this crew which is coxed by former teacher Caroline O’Connor. The eight received a boost to their Olympic preparation at the weekend by winning world cup bronze in Poznan.
Louisa Reeve and Olivia Whitlam – the latter being another graduate, like Annie Vernon, of the sport’s own talent identification and development scheme called World Class Start – qualified the women’s pair for Beijing via the final Olympic Qualifying Regatta in Poznan, Poland, in the past 10 days. Reeve was previously part of the women’s eight and Whitlam was the world U23 women’s pair champion in 2007.
The pair raised their game to qualify in dramatic style in the final in Poznan and were described has having “rowed out of their skins”.
Helen Casey and Hester Goodsell have won seats in the lightweight women’s double scull after a season of trialling and testing in this lone women’s lightweight Olympic class with different combinations racing at various world cups. Casey was part of this crew at the 2004 Olympic Games with Tracy Langlands. The duo were ninth at the Olympic Games of 2004, having earlier won GB’s first World Championships medal in this class with bronze in 2002.
TeamGB has also been allocated five places for rowing “alternates” or reserves in Beijing and will take two men and two women in the open classes and one lightweight man.
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Rowing is one of Britain’s most successful Olympic sports, having won 22 golds, 18 silvers and 8 bronzes at the Olympic Games.
The greatest British Olympian of all time, Sir Steve Redgrave, won five Olympic gold medals in successive Games for GB between 1984 (Los Angeles) and 2000 (Sydney) – an unprecedented
feat in an endurance sport.
Rowing made its Olympic debut in 1900, although only bad weather on the course at the 1896 Games prevented rowing from featuring at the very first Games. Women’s rowing was introduced at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
At the 2008 Olympic Games, GB will be defending one Olympic title: the men’s four, which took gold in stunning fashion by beating the, then, world champions, Canada, by just 0.08 seconds in the final. In Athens, GB also won two silver medals, in the women’s quadruple scull and women’s pair, and a bronze medal, in the women’s double scull.
GB’s best rowing gold haul came at the 1908 Olympic Games with four golds in total – and eight medals in all, still a record haul.
Top Ten Largest GB Rowing squads at the Olympic Games
(From 1996 onwards entries by nation have been capped
by IOC quota)
46 – Barcelona, 1992
43 – Moscow, 1980
43 – Beijing, 2008
42 – LA, 1984
38 – Sydney, 2000
36 – Athens, 2004
35 – Atlanta 1996
31 – Montreal, 1976; Seoul, 1988
30 – London, 1908
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BEIJING RACING TIMETABLE
Saturday 9 & Sunday 10
Monday 11 & Tuesday 12
Wednesday 13 & Thursday 14
The provisional schedule of A and B finals is as follows:
Saturday 16 August:
A-finals of W1x, M1x, W2-, M2-, W2x, M2x, M4-
B-finals of LW2x, LM2x, LM4-, W4x, M4x W8+, M8+
Sunday 17 August:
A-finals of LW2x, LM2x, LM4-, W4x, M4x, W8+, M8+
Please note: the schedule could be subject to change
nearer the Games.
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TEAMGB CREW LISTS
Olympic Games 2008, Beijing
(with clubs/home towns/dates of birth)
Eight and Alternate* plus cox to be selected from:
Carla Ashford (Oxford Brookes BC/Northallerton/13.03.79)
Jess Eddie (Uni of London/Durham/07.10.84)
Alice Freeman (Wallingford RC/Oxford/6.9.78)
Katie Greves (Leander Club/Oxford/02.09.82)
Natasha Howard (Tideway Scullers/West Runton/3.9.80)
Alison Knowles (Thames RC/ Bournemouth/27.3.82)
Natasha Page (Reading Uni/Hartpury/30.04.85)
Beth Rodford (Thames RC/Burton-on-Trent/ 28.12.82)
Sarah Winckless (Walbrook & Royal/Henley/18.10.73)
Caroline O’Connor (Oxford Brookes/Ealing/25.04.83) (cox)
Coach: John Keogh
Louisa Reeve (Leander/London/16.05.84)/
Olivia Whitlam (Agecroft/Warrington 16.09.85)
Coach: John Keogh
Annie Vernon (Marlow RC/Wadebridge/01.09.82)/Debbie Flood
(Leander Club/Leeds/27.02.80)/Frances Houghton
(Tyrian Club (Uni of London)/Oxford/19.09.80)/Katherine
Grainger (St Andrew BC/Aberdeen/12.11.75)
Coach: Paul Thompson
Elise Laverick (Thames RC/Poling, W.Sussex/27.07.75)/
Anna Bebington (Leander Club/Leek, Staffs/13.2.83)
Coach: Miles Forbes Thomas
Tina Stiller (Nottingham RC/Yarm, N.Yorks/23.6.87)
Tom James (Molesey/Wrexham/11.3.84)/Steve Williams
(Leander Club/Cheltenham/15.04.76)/Peter Reed (Leander Club/
Nailsworth, Glos/27.07.81)/Andy Triggs Hodge (Molesey BC/Hebden,
Coach: Jurgen Grobler
Alex Partridge (Leander Club/Alton, Hants/25.01.81)/
Tom Stallard (Leander/Welwyn, Herts/11.09.78)/
Tom Lucy (Oxford Brookes/Monmouth/01.05.88)/
Richard Egington (Leander/Knutsford/26.02.79)/
Josh West (Leander/Santa Fe, USA/25.03.77)/
Alastair Heathcote (Army RC/London/18.8.77)/
Matt Langridge(Leander Club/Northwich/20.05.83)/
Colin Smith (Leander/Henley on Thames/23.09.83)/
Acer Nethercott (University College Oxford BC/Harlow/28.11.77)
Coaches: Mark Banks, John West
Pair and alternates*
To be announced at a later date
Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers/Coleraine/9.5.83)
Coach: Bill Barry
Matt Wells (Leander Club/Hexham, Northumberland/19.4.79)/
Stephen Rowbotham (Leander Club/Winscombe, Somerset/11.11.81)
Coach: Mark Earnshaw
Helen Casey (Wallingford RC/Oxford/06.02.74)/
Hester Goodsell (Reading Uni/Cambridge/27.06.84)
Coach: Rob Morgan
Richard Chambers (Oxford Brookes/Coleraine/10.06.85)/
James Lindsay-Fynn (London/Trim/29.09.75)/Paul Mattick
(Wallingford/Oxford/25.04.78)/James Clarke (London RC/
Coach: Robin Williams
Zac Purchase (Marlow RC/Tewkesbury, Glos/02.05.86)/
Mark Hunter (Leander Club/Romford, Essex/01.07.78)
Coach: Darren Whiter
Rob Williams (London RC/Maidenhead/21.01.1985)
ACCREDITED TEAM OFFICIALS
Jurgen Grobler, Paul Thompson
Miles Forbes-Thomas, John Keogh, Robin Williams, Darren Whiter,
Rob Morgan, Bill Barry, Mark Earnshaw, Mark Banks, John West,
Maggie Netto, Maurice Hayes.
Ali Sanders, Mark Edgar
ADDITIONAL TRAVELLING STAFF
All medical/sports science:
Pam Gardner, Gill Edmonson, Ryan Bathurst, Al Smith, Mark Homer,
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T: (01225) 443998
M: (07831) 755351
GB Rowing website www.gbrowing.org.uk – full biogs available
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