Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Welsh Rowers named in Eton Dorney World Cup Squad

Welsh rowers Chris Bartley and Victoria Thornley have been named as part of the biggest GB Rowing Team of all-time for a World Cup to race at Eton Dorney from June 21-23.

It will be the most important event the Great British rowing team have participated in since the London 2012 Olympics, where they picked up four gold medals, two silvers and three bronzes.

Wrexham-born Bartley will stroke the lightweight men’s four, after winning Olympic silver in the same event in London last year.

The 29-year-old, a former World champion in the discipline, raced in the opening World Cup of the season in Sydney where he won a solid silver medal.

The four-man crew at Eton Dorney will also include Olympic reserve and 2012 trials winner Adam Freeman-Pask, alongside two former World U23 champions Will Fletcher and Jonno Clegg.

Victoria Thornley, meanwhile, will go it alone in the women’s single sculls after coming third in this year’s national trials.

The 25-year-old doubled up at the Sydney World Cup, where she finished fourth in both the women’s double scull and the women’s eight.

She previously won bronze with the eight at the 2011 World Championships.

In total, 81 rowers will compete for Great Britain across 29 boats, with the dual aim of winning medals whilst also offering top-level racing experience to emerging talents.

Performance Director Sir David Tanner CBE is optimistic that the team will be able to take full advantage of competing in front of a home crowd.

“We will have a big crowd at Eton Dorney on all three days and it will be a good opportunity to give our emerging and U23 crews the chance to taste the intensity of World Cup racing alongside our more established and experienced stars”, said Tanner.

“We do not expect to repeat the heights of our medal haul from 2012 – after all this is a transitional year with some top rowers taking a break or having retired – but I am sure we will give the home crowd some exciting racing and something to cheer for,” he added.

A lot of attention is sure to be given to the men’s eight, which features the country’s top male sweep-rowers, including the Olympic men’s four champions Andrew Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed and Alex Gregory.  

This trio all raced at Eton Dorney back in 2005.  Reed and Hodge were in the winning GB four and Gregory was in a quad.  This year GB has raced an eight at the Sydney World Cup and at Essen International Regatta winning on both occasions.

Tom Ransley, Dan Ritchie, Will Satch, Mohamed Sbihi and cox Phelan Hill, all Olympic or World medallists, and Oliver Cook complete the big boat line-up for this event.

Helen Glover, who famously won Great Britain’s first gold medal of the London 2012 Games alongside Heather Stanning in the women’s pair, will rekindle her partnership with Polly Swann as Stanning has returned to the British Army for a year.

The new partnership won gold at earlier this year in Sydney, and Glover is now looking forward to racing again on home waters.

“It’s really exciting. I haven’t been back since, so the last time I got out of my boat there I had just become Olympic champion,” she said

“Going back, I’ve got to make sure that the event doesn’t get on top of me.

“It’s a great opportunity and I’ve got friends who didn’t get tickets last year who are coming to watch

“It’s a good way to signify a new chapter after the Olympics,” she added.

Chris Bartley’s former crew-mates, Richard and Peter Chambers brothers, will pair up together in the lightweight men’s double for their return to Eton Dorney.

At the same venue last year, they claimed a silver medal in the lightweight men’s four, missing out on gold by less than a second.

Also heading back to the Olympic venue is Alan Campbell; who returns in the single scull determined to improve on the bronze medal he picked up in London.

“My goal is Rio. Steve Redgrave had five Olympic Games. I've done three and each one has been better than the one before,” Campbell said.

“I'm still trying to improve all the time and I want my career to be defined as one of constant improvement.”

Olympic medallist Frances Houghton and Vicky Meyer-Laker were bronze medallists in Sydney. They form GB women’s double for Eton Dorney.

There will be returning Olympians Katie Greves, Louisa Reeve and Beth Rodford in the women’s eight.

A host of new names will get a run-out in the women’s boats, too.  They include Katherine Douglas, Caragh McMurtry, Brianna Stubbs and Eleanor Piggott – the latter two U23s in the second lightweight women’s double after their eye-catching trials performances.

The GB coaches will also want to see the performances under racing conditions of newcomers Mark Aldred, Sam Scrimgeour, Jamie Kirkwood, Matthew Bedford and Wilf Kimberley in the lightweight events.

Para-rowing will also feature at this month’s event, in which Great Britain will field a full squad.

2008 Paralympic Champion and four-times World Champion Tom Aggar has been selected to race the arms and shoulders single scull (ASM1x), as has Andrew Houghton his perennial training partner and domestic rival.  

GB are the reigning legs, trunk and arms mixed coxed four (LTA4+) Paralympic Champions but this crew is still in its formative stage.  Pamela Relph and Naomi Riches are the returning gold medallists from the 2012 crew.

Work is being done to rebuild the crew around them and they are joined at Eton Dorney by raw recruits James Fox and Oliver Hester, in a crew coxed by Oliver James.

Fox says he is looking forward to making his World Cup debut:

“We've got a lot of new blood in the boat, including me, and I'm really enjoying it. I've been rowing since I was 11 but this is a new class for me,” Fox said.

“There's a lot of experience in the boat with Naomi having done 2 Games and Pam 1. It'll be exciting for them to go back. There's a lot of banter too but Ollie (James) the cox gets us all into shape.”


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