Four golds from upbeat off-season performance

24th March

The GB Rowing Team produced an upbeat off-season performance at the opening 2013 Samsung world rowing cup series in Sydney today with a tally of four golds, a silver and two bronzes from 14 crews.

The day’s results were bookended by golds from the women’s pair and men’s eight with fields here that were generally low in numbers but with some quality in each.

In between GB won an historic gold in the men’s quad from Charles Cousins, Bill Lucas, Sam Townsend and Graeme Thomas – its first of all-time at world cup level.

Richard Chambers and Adam Freeman-Pask put in a strong performance to take lightweight men’s double gold - the latter saying the win was a better souvenir from “down-under” than the boomerang he had planned to buy.

Ironically it was Olympic champion Helen Glover and her new crew-mate Polly Swann who set the gold run going with a storming victory in the women’s pair.

They had two lengths over the field by halfway and powered on to win in 7:03.55

Glover said that being Olympic champion did not add to the pressure. “When I go to the start line I am just Helen but I am still a competitive person so I always want to win”.

Swann and Glover’s success augurs well for the season ahead with some of the world’s top pairs competing down under this weekend.

The GB men’s eight was powered by three Olympic gold medallists in Andrew Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed and Alex Gregory as well as a crop of world medallists alongside newcomers Lance Tredell and Matt Gotrel.

They got an early lead and then persisted strongly to hold off late challenges from the USA and Australia.

“It was hard to get ourselves up for a race like that in this part of the season but the organisers here have done a fantastic job and I hope that we have put on the kind of performance they wanted. Now it’s back to the UK and to more hard work”, said Triggs Hodge.

Britain’s other medals came from the lightweight men’s four (silver), the lightweight women’s double (bronze) and the women’s double scull of Frances Houghton and Vicki Meyer-Laker (bronze).

GB Rowing Team Performance Director Sir David Tanner said “It’s been great to get some top level racing so early in the year especially as we start the Rio cycle. I am very pleased with our four gold medals – each of them special in their own way.

“Our objective here was to give a good outing to our returning Olympians and to blood a significant number of rowers new to the world cup scene.

“We can go away with some good lessons learnt and look forward to the second world cup at Eton Dorney on our home waters in June”.

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RACE REPORTS

OPEN - MEN

Andrew Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed, Alex Gregory, Mohamed Sbihi, Tom Ransley and cox Phelan Hill had their first competitive senior international outing since winning medals at London 2012 today.

In the final of the first world rowing cup of the season they were joined in the British eight by World silver medallist Dan Ritchie and young, newcomers Matt Gotrel and Lance Tredell.

At 500m gone, in an already tough race. the GB boat was ahead by half a length before they moved out to a length lead at halfway. The USA were second and New Zealand were third.

The USA mounted a challenge and tracking them were Australia and New Zealand. Stroke by stroke Triggs Hodge kept the pace up and kept the power on. They never looked like being bested despite a strong final 500m from the Americans. In a dramatic battle for third place the Australians came through ahead of New Zealand.

“That was definitely our best race so far”, said cox Hill. “I am really proud of what we have achieved”, said Reed. “When we went to the start we thought a medal would be good and a gold would be a miracle”.

“The gold was a great end to a tremendous three-week training camp”, said Gregory. “I want to go home but I don’t want to go home. It’s been a great camp and event and the sunshine has been wonderful”.

Dan Ritchie who was part of the 2010 and 2011 eight refused to be drawn into comparisons. “That eight had pace and this eight has pace too. They are just different. It was great to come back after injury to win world cup gold”.

Sam Townsend, Charles Cousins, Bill Lucas and Graeme Thomas are the new-look GB Rowing Team men’s quad for the early season world cup “down under”.

All four are products of the GB Rowing Team’s renowned “Start’ talent identification and development scheme. They began their 2013 campaign by writing a little history of their own in winning GB’s first gold in this event at a world cup in history.

They were also involved in a touch of combatitive side-by-side racing when they went bow-ball to bow-ball with New Zealand in the opening half of today’s final.

As midday approached and the temperatures rose and rose over still water they finally broke the Kiwis resistance at 1300m gone. With 250m to go they had a length over their rivals with Australia in third.

Showing their significant fire-power, the quartet eased across the line to win in 5:49.93 – more than three seconds ahead.

“It’s my first senior gold at a world cup so I am really chuffed with that”, said Townsend. “They held on a bit longer today than in the race on Friday but I am pleased with the way we pulled ahead”.

Lucas said “This is probably one of the best training camp and event trips that we have done. Sure, we would have liked more crews to turn up in our event but you can only race those who are here. There was still quality in the field if not numbers”.

Thomas, making his debut in a crew boat at senior level said: “That’s only my second crew boat race at international level and it’s growing on me. The guys have been really great in bringing me on. They have taught me a lot”.

Cousins said: “We may not be race-ready this early in the year but we are fit and sometimes your fitness can take you through. We just have trust in Jurgen’s [Grobler’s] training programme”.

The GB men’s double of Pete Lambert and John Collins have combined since the winter of training and today battled in fourth all the way down the track in a race won by New Zealand.

Australia took a one-two in the men’s four much to the delight of the home crowd. Behind them GB was lying fourth with 500m to go before turning on the after-blasters to try and catch New Zealand before the line. It was close and the surge was spectacular but Nathaniel Reilly O’Donnell, Scott Durant, Matt Tarrant and Alan Sinclair just missed out to take fourth in 6:01.20.

Jonathan Walton was sixth by a shade at the first timing point today in his debut senior single scull world cup final. The early race leader, with none of the world’s top single scullers from 2012 present, was Bulgaria’s Georgi Bozhilov. He was challenged but held off Australia and Germany throughout.

Walton, meanwhile, saved the best until last. He came back on the second string Australian sculler and overhauled Kim Dongyong in the final 300m to take fourth.

OPEN – WOMEN

Britain’s two women’s pair combinations in today’s final were Jess Eddie and Katie Greves and Helen Glover and Polly Swann. The latter started as favourites to win with all eyes on how Glover would perform in the new combination whilst her Olympic gold medal partner is on duty with the British Army.

Swann also had some ghosts to slay, having missed the Olympic Games due to a back injury.

The question was answered within the first 500m of today’s final. Swann and Glover had their nose ahead at 250m but then surged powerfully to a length’s lead by 500m with Greves and Eddie tucked into fifth.

By halfway Greves and Eddie were adrift somewhat of the remainder of the field over which Glover and Swann had more than two lengths behind them with the USA in second.

In the third 500m Greves and Eddie recovered to move ahead of Canada and began to chase down China who in turn targeted the Australians in third. The home crew held on to take bronze with China and Great Britain 2 in fourth and fifth.

“Rowing with Polly is great. We have had a fantastic few days”, said Glover.

Just as the mid-morning sunshine was making the crowd feel a little sleepy, the GB women’s double of Frances Houghton and Vicki Meyer-Laker set out briskly to lead a field in today’s final which included their team-mates Vicky Thornley and Beth Rodford.

By halfway they had a length lead over China and New Zealand. Just beyond halfway New Zealand pushed ahead of China and snagged an overlap on Houghton and Meyer-Laker. Rodford and Thornley were holding firmly onto fourth at 1500m.

In the closing 500m the New Zealanders pressurised and pressurised before drawing level and pushing past the GB crew and going onto win. Perhaps paying for their early pace, Houghton and Meyer-Laker were also pipped by China in the final surge with Rodford and Thornley coming home fourth.

Earlier the recently-formed women’s quad of Kristina Stiller, Olivia Carnegie-Brown, Monica Relph and Zoe Lee opened the morning’s race programme and were well placed in a tightly boxed field at 500m gone in today’s final. By half-way the field had spread with Australia clear leaders over New Zealand in second and the USA in third.

The British quartet, in fifth, were keeping their nose ahead of China and began the task of clawing back ground on Canada. With a strong final 500m they powered through Canada 250m before the line but could not quite get the overlap on New Zealand who took third. Australia were the clear winners with the USA winning a tight battle with New Zealand on the line.

“With a quick USA quad and other strong crews we knew our event was stacked but we went in ranked fifth and came out fourth so I think we did a good job as a new crew”, said Relph.

“We were seen as the under-dogs but we weren’t really and I think it was a gutsy performance under pressure from all four of us”, said Carnegie-Brown. “Getting the verdict over Canada will give us all confidence”.

The crew, of course, had lost their “power-house” Rachel Gamble-Flint to illness but Zoe Lee stepped up well as a substitute in the final five days before the regatta.

The GB women’s eight had high hopes of disturbing the world’s more established powers in their final today after a good performance to win their heat.

They had those hopes despite all eight rowers doubling up in the earlier finals of the double and pair.

It was Australia, though, who took the early race lead whilst GB, stroked by Swann and coxed by Zoe de Toledo , moved up to fourth from third behind the leaders and Canada.

Perhaps the earlier races told in the GB legs as they battled and battled to get back on terms with Canada, the Olympic silver medallists, in the final 500m only to finish in fourth in 6:11.33

Canada took the bronze whilst Australia toppled the Olympic champions to win in 6:06.98.

“It was frustrating really”, said Eddie. “Our boat felt a bit dead and we didn’t have the push that we normally have. It was always going to be a tough final and we went into it a little on the back foot. But that’s no excuse”.

“I am sure that some of the things that we have done here will benefit us later. It was certainly interesting doing that many races over the three days”, said Greves.

LIGHTWEIGHT

Imogen Walsh and Kathryn Twyman raced a composed first half today, using good middle-1km pace to move from fifth to third place behind convincing leaders New Zealand in their lightweight women’s double final.

Stroke by stroke they took up the task of hauling in Australia’s Alice McNamara and Maia Simmonds. 150m from the line it looked as if they might edge into bronze but just ran out of steam. So their first world cup medal in the Olympic women’s boat category, having won World gold in the non-Olympic lightweight women’s quad, is a bronze in 7:01.02.

Walsh said: “I am relatively pleased with that. I think it’s a fair representation of where we are at this time of the year. It’s a good basis, a platform we can build from:.

Twyman added: “We had a really good middle thousand today. We knew that was possible and if our first 500 or our last 500 had come good, too, that would have been a bonus. Now I’m excited to see what will happen from here”.

In a contrasting race profile, Richard Chambers and Adam Freeman Pask led the field through the first half. Chambers at stroke and Freeman Pask at bow. Chambers took silver in the lightweight four at the 2012 Olympics – an event that Freeman-Pask attended as a reserve.

In the third 500m the British duo moved out into a length’s lead on China in second and Portugal. Had the early effort been too much? No. They looked strong as they crossed the line to take GB’s second gold of the day in 6:26.05 from China in silver.

“It’s good for us to have raced here. Even though not everyone’s here and it will get tougher we still beat the guys who were fifth at the Olympics today and that shows we are up there with some of the best”, said Chambers whose younger brother Peter was in the lightweight men’s four today.

New Zealand took an early lead in that final. The British crew of Chris Bartley, Peter Chambers – both Olympic silver medallists – with newcomers Jonno Clegg and Chris Boddy were second throughout the first three-quarters of the race.

In the final 500m, the GB quartet were determined to hold off the Australians in third despite the best efforts of the crowd to urge their home rowers to the line in the tradition of Australia-GB rivalry. The British combination kept its head and its pace. They could not catch New Zealand but were strong silver medallists in 6:02.75.

“We have come a long way since this crew was formed”, said Chambers,. “It is good to be back racing, it’s a reminder of why we do all the training”.

“We got into a good rhythm through the middle and it shows where we are at this point in the season. I will take away some invaluable race experience and I know more about the intensity of racing in the lightweight four”, added Jonno Clegg.

Bartley added: “We have delivered a really good race but not come away with the result that we wanted. Credit to the New Zealand crew. They are quicker than us at this time of the year”.

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THE NEXT WORLD CUP

UK sports fans and GB Rowing Team members alike have a treat in store as the next Samsung World Rowing Cup will be at Eton Dorney from June 21-23.

For Andrew Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed, Alex Gregory and Helen Glover it will mean returning to the place last summer where they won Olympic gold in a regatta which ended as Britain’s most successful of all-time. There will also be para-rowing classes with Britain’s two returning gold medallist Naomi Riches and Pam Relph vying for places in the squad.

The GB Rowing Team for the event will be announced in early June and the Sunday finals programme will be televised live by BBC TV.

Racing will start with heats and repechages on Friday, followed by more repechages, semi-finals and some finals on Saturday before the remainder of the finals on Sunday.

Tickets are already on sale on-line or by phone. Visit www.wrcupetondorney2013.com for more information. There will be a host of spectator attractions, making the whole event a great day out.

Let’s revive that Dorney Roar and get behind the team as they take on the top nations in the world on home water.

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RESULTS
(events featuring GB Rowing Team crews only. Full results at www.worldrowing.com)

FINALS

OPEN

WOMEN

Pair

1. Helen Glover/Polly Swann (GREAT BRITAIN) 7:03.55
2. Meghan Musnicki/Caroline Lind (USA 2) 7:07.77
3. Tess Gerrand/Katrina Bateman (Australia 1) 7:12.32
4. Xu Ying/Cui Xiaotong (China 1) 7:13.80
5. Katie Greves/Jessica Eddie (GREAT BRITAIN 2) 7:14.54
6. Christine Roper/Sarah Black (Canada) 7:24.30

Eight

1. Australia 6:06.98
2. USA 6:07.83
3. Canada 6:10.47
4. Katie Greves/Jess Eddie/Beth Rodford/Vicki Meyer-Laker/Frances Houghton/Victoria Thornley/Helen Glover/Polly Swann/Zoe de Toledo (cox) (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:11.33

Double scull

1. Fiona Bourke/Zoe Stevenson (New Zealand) 6:56.93
2. Tian Liang/Zhang Yangyang (China 1) 6:59.9
3. Frances Houghton/Vicki Meyer-Laker (GREAT BRITAIN) 7:02.10
4. Beth Rodford/Victoria Thornley (GREAT BRTAIN) 7:05.54
5. Megan Kalmoe/Esther Lofgren (USA 1) 7:06.60
6. Jennifer Cleary/Rebekah Hooper (Australia) 7:13.97

Quadruple scull

1. Australia 6:21.94
2. USA 6:26.51
3. New Zealand 6:26.75
4. Monica Relph/Zoe Lee/Olivia Carnegie-Brown/Kristina Stiller (GREAT BRITAIN)
5. Canada 6:30.37
6. China 2 6:36.00

MEN

Four

1. Australia 2 5:58.07
2. Australia 1 5:59.25
3. New Zealand 6:00.41
4. Scott Durant/Alan Sinclair/Matthew Tarrant/Nathaniel Reilly O’Donnell (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:01.20

Single scull

1. Georgi Bozhilov (Bulgaria) 6:58.28
2. Kieran Kobelke (Australia 1) 7:01.01
3. Jost SChoemann-Finck (Germany) 7:03.47
4. Jonathan Walton (GREAT BRITAIN) 7:05.58
5. David Watts (Australia 2) 7:09.31
6. Kim Dongyong (Korea) 7:09.81

Double scull

1. Michael Arms/Robert Manson (New Zealand) 6:15.87
2. Allar Raja/Kaspar Taimsoo (Estonia) 6:20.22
3. Alexander Belongoff/Ryan Edwards (Australia) 6:24.50
4. John Collins/Peter Lambert (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:27.64

Quadruple scull

1. Bill Lucas/Graeme Thomas/Charles Cousins/Sam Townsend (GREAT BRITAIN) 5:49.93
2. New Zealand 5:53.20
3. Australia 1 5:56.69
4. Australia 2 6:07.18

LIGHTWEIGHT

WOMEN

Double scull

1. Julia Edward/Lucy Strack (New Zealand) 6:58.15
2. Alice McNamara/Maia Simmonds (Australia 2) 6:59.91
3. Kathryn Twyman/Imogen Walsh (GREAT BRITAIN) 7:01.02
4. Ella Flecker/Georgia Nesbitt (Australia 1) 7:05.69
5. Song Xiujuan/Wang Miao (China) 7:09.13
6. Park Yeonhee/Kim Sol Ji (Korea 1) 7:20.04

MEN

Four

1. New Zealand 5:58.98
2. Peter Chambers/Jonathan Clegg/Chris Boddy/Chris Bartley (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:02.75
3. Australia 6:05.01
4. Australia 2 6:11.73
5. China 6:35.80

Eight

1. Daniel Ritchie/Tom Ransley/Lance Tredell/Matt Gotrel/Mohamed Sbihi/Alex Gregory/Pete Reed/Andrew Triggs Hodge/Phelan Hill (cox) (GREAT BRITAIN) 5:29.90
2. USA 5;31.73
3. Australia 1 5:35.05
4. New Zealand 5:35.50
5. Australia 2 5:46.38

Double scull

1. Adam Freeman Pask/Richard Chambers (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:26.05
2 Li Hui/Dong Tianfeng (China 2) 6:28.08
3. Pedro Fraga/Nuno Mendes (Portugal) 6:31.64
4. James Wilson/Edward de Carvalho (Australia 2) 6:36.60
5. Wang Jun/Kong Deming (China 1) 6:39.28
6. Sean Lake/Redmond Matthews (Australia 1) 6:43.26

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GB Rowing Team – Crew List
2013 World Rowing Cup, Sydney

OPEN

WOMEN

Pair – (two boats)

Helen Glover / Minerva Bath / Penzance / 17/06/86
Polly Swann / Leander Club / Edinburgh / 15/06/88

Katie Greves / Leander Club / Oxford / 02/09/82
Jessica Eddie / London RC / Durham / 07/10/84

Coach: Robin Williams

Double scull – (two boats)

Victoria Thornley / Leander Club / Wrexham / 30/11/87
Beth Rodford / Gloucester RC / Gloucester / 28/12/82

Frances Houghton / Leander Club / Oxford / 19/09/80
Vicki Meyer-Laker / Leander Club / Premnay / 18/03/88

Coach: Paul Thompson

Quadruple scull

Monica Relph / Leander Club / Cambridge / 15/01/88
Zoe Lee / Sport Imperial BC / Richmond, N. Yorks / 15/12/85
Olivia Carnegie-Brown/Oxford Brookes Uni / Oxford / 28/03/91
Kristina Stiller / Tees RC/ Yarm, N.Yorks / 23/06/87

Coach: Nick Strange

Eight

Katie Greves / Leander Club / Oxford / 02/09/82
Jessica Eddie / London RC/ Durham / 07/10/84
Beth Rodford / Gloucester RC / Gloucester / 28/12/82
Vicki Meyer-Laker / Leander Club / Premnay / 18/03/88
Frances Houghton / Leander Club / Oxford / 19/09/80
Victoria Thornley / Leander Club / Wrexham / 30/11/87
Helen Glover / Minerva Bath / Penzance / 17/06/86
Polly Swann / Leander Club / Edinburgh / 15/06/88
Zoe de Toledo (cox) / Leander Club / London / 17/07/87

Coaches: Paul Thompson/Robin Williams

Spares

Erica Bodman / Leander Club / Guernsey / 24/01/1988

OPEN

MEN

Four

Scott Durant / Oxford Brookes Uni BC / Lancaster / 12/02/88
Nathaniel Reilly O’Donnell/ Uni of London BC / Durha m / 13/04/88
Alan Sinclair / Leander Club / Inverness / 16/10/85
Matthew Tarrant / Oxford Brookes Uni BC / Shepperton / 11/07/90

Coach: Christian Felkel

Eight

Matt Gotrel / Leander Club / Chipping Camden / 01/03/89
Alex Gregory / Leander Club / Wormington / 11/03/84
Tom Ransley / Leander Club / Cambridge / 06/09/85
Pete Reed / Leander Club / Nailsworth, Glos / 27/07/81
Dan Ritchie / Leander Club / Herne Bay / 16/01/87
Mohamed Sbihi / Molesey BC / Surbiton / 27/03/88
Lance Tredell / Leander Club / Hale / 25/10/88
Andrew Triggs Hodge / Molesey BC / Hebden, N. Yorks / 03/03/79
Phelan Hill (cox) / Leander / Bedford / 21/07/79

Coach: Jurgen Grobler

Single scull

Jonathan Walton / Leander Club / Leicester / 06/10/90

Coach: Mark Banks

Double scull

John Collins / Leander Club / Twickenham / 24/01/89
Pete Lambert / Leander Club / Johannesburg / 03/12/86

Coach: Mark Banks

Quadruple scull

Charles Cousins / Leander Club / Willingham, Cambs / 13/12/88
Bill Lucas / London RC / Kingswear / 13/09/87
Graeme Thomas / Agecroft RC / Preston / 08/11/88
Sam Townsend / Reading Univ BC / Reading / 26/11/85

Coach: Mark Earnshaw

Spare

Oliver Cook / Univ of London / Windsor / 05/06/1990

LIGHTWEIGHT

WOMEN

Double scull

Kathryn Twyman / Wallingford RC / Oxford / 29/03/87
Imogen Walsh / London RC / Inverness / 17/01/84

Coach: Paul Reedy

Single scull
Ruth Walczak / Molesey BC / Rochdale / 15/09/88

Coach: Paul Reedy

LIGHTWEIGHT

MEN

Double scull

Richard Chambers / Leander Club / Coleraine / 10/06/85
Adam Freeman-Pask / Reading Uni BC/ Windsor / 19/06/85

Coach: Darren Whiter

Four

Chris Bartley / Leander Club / Chester / 02/02/84
Chris Boddy / Leander Club / Thornaby-on-Tees / 16/11/87
Peter Chambers / Oxford Brookes Uni BC / Oxford / 14/03/90
Jonno Clegg / Leander Club / Maidenhead/14/07/89

Coach: Rob Morgan

Single scull

Jamie Kirkwood / Leander Club / Cresswell / 30/08/89

Coach: Rob Morgan

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CONTACT DETAILS

For media enquiries about this event please contact:

Caroline Searle on (01225) 443998 or (NB Sydney is 11 hours ahead of the UK) 07831 755351 (or e-mail caroline@matchtight.co.uk

GB Rowing Team website, including full rower biogs: www.gbrowingteam.org.uk

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