Reigning double scull World Champions Anna Watkins, of Staffordshire, and Scotland's Katherine Grainger spearhead a list of 48 rowers, from the ultimate squad of 52 including reserves, across 13 boats announced today by the British Olympic Association for the London 2012 Games.
"It's been an incredible honour and privilege to be part of the past three Olympic Games and as wonderful as they have all been there is a sense that the upcoming home Games will be on a different scale to anything we've ever seen before. As athletes we already feel the incredible support, enthusiasm, pride and excitement from the public and that will just keep building to the Games. And I for one can't wait", said Grainger.
Watkins added: "I'm very excited to have got to this point. We [Watkins and Elise Laverick] lost in Beijing by a couple of feet and I've spent four years working hard to improve so that now I've got this opportunity to do it right".
Five returning Beijing gold medallists have also been named today. Andrew Triggs Hodge from Yorkshire, Peter Reed of Gloucestershire and Wales' Tom James will race at Eton-Dorney in the men's four - a boat in which they won gold with Steve Williams in 2008. Alex Gregory, also from Gloucestershire and a World Champion in 2009 and 2011, completes the quartet for 2012.
Triggs Hodge said: "It's such an honour to continue to be a part of such a strong team heading to London 2012. Such drive and dedication from all the athletes support staff and from the national lottery means this is the best team ever sent to an Olympic Games. I'm just looking forward to helping to make GB proud".
Reed added: "I'm thrilled to be part of the biggest British team ever at our London Olympics. I have been training for this all my life one way or another. I am a proud lieutenant from the Royal Navy, a proud Olympian and a proud Briton. I'm racing to win".
Hunter said: "The biggest honour in any athlete's career is to be a part of a home Olympics. My gold medal in Beijing was more of a personal journey but as London 2012 draws nearer I have become aware that I am part of something much bigger. British athletes competing for Queen and Country!"
David Tanner, GB Rowing Team Performance Director and Team Leader for rowing, said: "We are an ambitious sport going into the Games and certainly the best supported we have ever been thanks to our funding from the National Lottery. We go to the start in London ready to defend our status as the leading rowing nation from Beijing but we are under no illusion as to how tough winning medals, especially gold medals, will be at this Games".
Britain has a strong lightweight rowing contingent for the London Games, including the lightweight men's four which includes the Chambers brothers Richard, the elder sibling who was world champion in 2007 and 2010, and Peter, World U23 champion in 2011. Welshman Chris Bartley who strokes the combination and Maidenhead's Rob Williams were also World Champions in 2010.
London's Sophie Hosking, a World bronze medallist in 2009 and 2011, has teamed up this year in the lightweight women's double scull with World U23 single scull champion Kat Copeland of Ingelby Barwick, Stockton on Tees. The duo were world cup silver medallists earlier this year.
Cornwall's Helen Glover had only barely begun to row in 2008, having responded to UK Sport's "Sporting Giants" call for tall people and having since been nurtured and developed through rowing's own talent development scheme, Start. She will go to the Games as World Silver medallist in the women's pair with Lossiemouth's Heather Stanning, also a product of the Start scheme.
Seven rowers plus cox and twice World Silver medallist Phelan Hill, from Bedford, have been identified for the men's eight with the final names to be chosen from a group of reserves.
At the Games, the men's eight will, no doubt, continue their on-going rivalry with World Champions Germany - who they may also race at the World Cup in Munich in two weeks' time as a curtain-raiser for London - as well as with Canada, the Olympic Champions, amongst others. The finals of the Munich World Cup regatta which takes place from 15-17 June will be televised live on BBC 2 on Sunday 17 June.
Beijing silver medalists Alex Partridge (Hants), Matt Langridge and Ric Egington (both Cheshire) have already been named in this boat along with World Silver medallists Moe Sbihi (London), James Foad (Southampton), Tom Ransley (Kent) and returning 1992 Olympic gold medallist Greg Searle (Marlow) who will be forty in the week of the rowing programme at 2012.
George Nash from Guildford and Henley's Will Satch have joined the GB senior squad this year and have shown well in the men's pair in the opening two world cups. Still learning and clearly enjoying their trade at this level, the duo held their own to reach the final from a strong world cup field in Lucerne just over two weeks ago.
Britain has also named three men's sculling boats - Northern Ireland's Alan Campbell will race the single whilst Bill Lucas (Devon) and Sam Townsend (Reading) compete in the double scull - an event in which they are also considered an emerging talent this season and in which they have been on the world cup medal rostrum already.
Charles Cousins, of Cambridge, can now consign to history the disappointment he felt when the men's quadruple scull missed out on qualifying for Beijing. He has been named in the boat today with Somerset's Stephen Rowbotham, Hexham's Matt Wells (2008 double scull bronze medallists) and Londoner Tom Solesbury.
Debbie Flood, of Leeds, is back in the equivalent women's boat in which she won Olympic silver in 2004 and 2008. Flood has worked her way back into contention from injury and joins her 2004 and 2008 crew-mate Frances Houghton on the selected list. Southampton-born Melanie Wilson, a medical student living in London, and Gloucester's Beth Rodford, World Champion in 2010, complete the line-up.
Houghton was clear that this new-line up has a big task ahead: "It is a race against time to bring the crew together for racing the final World Cup regatta. The event is the tightest it’s ever been across all eight boats in the Olympic start list, so we know we will have to perform at the highest standard despite these challenges to be in contention for a medal".
Ten names plus a cox have been announced today from which the women's eight will be chosen. This is an event in which Great Britain took bronze at the 2011 World Championships. The ten include Victoria Thornley, from Wales, who stroked the boat last year and who competed at the first two world cups this season in the women's quadruple scull.
Like Glover, Thornley is a product of first Sporting Giants and then Start. She is joined in the ten by Lindsey Maguire, also a Start graduate, from Edinburgh, as well as Emily Taylor (Lincoln), Jo Cook (London), Jess Eddie (Durham), Louisa Reeve (London), Natasha Page (Gloucester), Katie Greves (Oxford), Annabel Vernon (Cornwall) and Ealing's Caroline O'Connor, the cox.
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TEAM GB ROWING CREWS LIST
(See home-towns, clubs and dates of birth in list below. Named here in crews bow to stroke unless indicated. (Coach in brackets)).
Eight + 2 reserves
(in alphabetical order + cox)
(John West & Christian Felkel)
Management and support team:
David Tanner, Team Leader
Jurgen Grobler, Chief Coach, Men
Paul Thompson, Chief Coach, Women & Lightweights
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HOME TOWN LISTS -
(name, club, home town, date of birth)
Coach: Robin Williams
Jo Cook Leander Club Sunbury-on-Thames 22/03/84
Jessica Eddie Univ of London BC Durham 07/10/84
Katie Greves Leander Club Oxford 02/09/82
Lindsey Maguire Wallingford Edinburgh 15/01/82
Natasha Page Gloucester RC Hartpury 30/04/85
Louisa Reeve Leander Club London 16/05/84
Emily Taylor Leander Club Lincoln 28/06/87
Victoria Thornley Leander Club Wrexham 30/11/87
Annabel Vernon Leander Club Wadebridge 01/09/82
Olivia Whitlam Agecroft RC Warrington 16/09/85
Caroline O'Connor (cox) Oxford Brookes Univ BC Ealing, London 25/04/83
Coach: Nick Strange
Anna Watkins Leander Club Leek, Staffs. 13/02/83
Katherine Grainger St Andrew BC Aberdeen 12/11/75
Coach: Paul Thompson
Melanie Wilson Imperial College BC London 25/06/84
Beth Rodford Gloucester RC Gloucester 28/12/82
Frances Houghton Leander Club Oxford 19/09/80
Debbie Flood Leander Club Guiseley, W Yorks 27/02/1980
Coach: Ade Roberts
George Nash Molesey BC Guildford 02/10/89
Will Satch Leander Club Henley-on-Thames 09/06/89
Coaches: Christian Felkel & Paul Stannard
Alex Gregory Leander Club Wormington 11/03/84
Pete Reed Leander Club Nailsworth, Glos 27/07/81
Tom James Molesey BC Wrexham 11/03/84
Andrew Triggs Hodge Molesey BC Hebden, N. Yorks 03/03/79
Coach: Jürgen Grobler
James Foad Molesey BC Southampton 20/03/87
Richard Egington Leander Club Knutsford 26/02/79
Matthew Langridge Leander Club Northwich 20/05/83
Alex Partridge Leander Club Alton, Hants 25/01/81
Tom Ransley York City RC Cambridge 06/09/85
Mohamed Sbihi Molesey BC Surbiton 27/03/88
Greg Searle Molesey BC Marlow 20/03/72
Cox – Phelan Hill Leander Bedford 21/07/79
Coaches: John West & Christian Felkel
Alan Campbell Tideway Scullers School Coleraine 09/05/83
Coach: Bill Barry
Bill Lucas London RC Kingswear 13/09/87
Sam Townsend Reading Univ BC Reading 26/11/85
Coach: Mark Earnshaw
Stephen Rowbotham Leander Club Winscombe, Somerset 11/11/81
Tom Solesbury Leander Club Petts Wood, Kent 23/09/80
Charles Cousins Reading Univ BC Willingham, Cambs 13/12/88
Matthew Wells Leander Club Hexham, Northumberland 19/04/79
Coach: Mark Banks
Sophie Hosking London RC Wimbledon 25/01/86
Katherine Copeland Tees RC Ingleby Barwick, Stockton-on-Tees 01/12/90
Coach: Paul Reedy
Peter Chambers Oxford Brookes Coleraine 14/03/90
Rob Williams London RC Maidenhead 21/01/85
Richard Chambers Leander Club Coleraine 10/06/85
Chris Bartley Leander Club Chester 02/02/84
Coach: Rob Morgan
Zac Purchase Marlow RC Tewkesbury 02/05/86
Mark Hunter Leander Club Romford, Essex 01/07/78
Coach: Darren Whiter
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GB Rowing Team website, including full rower biogs: www.gbrowingteam.org.uk
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