World Cup Team Announced
Britain has kept faith with a winning formula by today naming an unchanged men’s four of Steve Williams, Peter Reed, Alex Partridge and Andy Hodge – for the first World Cup of the 2006 rowing season (Munich, May 25-27) – but Debbie Flood has emerged from last month’s hotly-contested Senior Trials to take up a seat in the lead women’s boat, the quadruple scull.
Flood, 26, originally from Harrogate but now living in Henley, was third at the Trials and will join three from last year’s world-champion, crew – Scotland’s Katherine Grainger, Bucks-based Sarah Winckless and Fran Houghton.
These two boats – the men’s four and the women’s quadruple scull – will be the two "lead’ boats for the first World Cup and will, therefore, be sponsored by Camelot.
"This selection announcement marks the beginning of what could prove to be a tough but exciting season and we go into it with the backing of both Camelot and UK Sport’s lottery funding", said GB Performance Director, David Tanner. "The lead crews are strong but we know we will face considerable opposition in both events as the long wind-up towards Beijing continue".
In selecting Oxford’s Houghton, 25, the coaching and management team have backed the established Olympic medallist above the talented younger rower, Anna Bebington, 23, from Leek in Staffordshire, who beat her in the final of last month’s singles Trials.
Bebington will now race a double scull in Germany with another emerging rower, Annie Vernon, of Cornwall. Both are graduates of the lottery-funded World Class Start programme and could be potential names to watch for both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.
Elise Laverick, from Sussex but currently based in Putney, a bronze medallist at the Olympic Games of 2004, will now be part of on-going trials for a women’s pair. GB will also race an eight in Munich, likely to be coxed by Caroline O’Connor. An announcement of the make-up of the eight is expected in the next fortnight.
"There will be an exciting opportunity this year for our rowers to compete in front of a home crowd at Eton in August at the World Championships", said Paul Thompson. "This World Cup selection is a first step. We’ve had a good winter of training and a thorough selection process. We’ll continue to assess the rowers in an on-going fashion".
Steve Williams (Cheltenham), Peter Reed (Nailsworth), Alex Partridge (Alton) and Andy Hodge (Skipton), meanwhile, won 13 consecutive races last season in the Camelot-backed men’s four and know that they could be a tantalising target for all-comers as defending champions when they compete at this year’s "home" World Championships which take place at Eton in August.
Decisions on the lead men’s boat were not as difficult as those for the women as Reed and Hodge won the men’s Trials last month with Williams and Partridge second.
"We’re already halfway through the Olympic campaign and it will be a special thing for the team to have a World Championships in Great Britain this year. After all the work and preparation done in the darkness of the winter, it will be good to have our first international challenge in Munich.
"The four and the eight – in which we have made some changes since the World Championships last year – along with the men’s single and double, will form the core of our national men’s team this year", said coach Grobler.
Indeed Britain will race a men’s eight and a second men’s four in Munich. These will be chosen from a dozen rowers representing a blend of youth and experience: Marcus Bateman; Jonno Devlin; Simon Fieldhouse; Toby Garbett; Matthew Langridge; Hugo Lee: Nick Lloyd; Tom Parker; Tom Solesbury; Tom Stallard; Josh West and Kieran West.
Former Cambridge rower Josh West and Ascot’s Toby Garbett have previously won world medals in a four whilst Kieran West, from Kingston, was an Olympic gold medallist in the eight in 2000.
Marcus Bateman, from Devon, has made the step up from the U23 group with Hugo Lee whilst Devlin, Stallard and Parker were all in last year’s eight. Tom Solesbury and Nick Lloyd are newcomers. The eight will be coxed by Harlow’s Acer Nethercott – more famous so far as a Boat Race cox with Oxford.
These men will also race at the Duisburg Regatta (13/14 May) – in two fours on the Satuday and in an eight on the Sunday.
Meanwhile Coleraine’s Alan Campbell has achieved his desire of racing a single scull internationally. The ebullient sculler raced with maturity at the trials and has been given his chance.
Northumberland’s Matthew Wells, originally from Hexham, is already experienced in the men’s double and quadruple sculls, and will race a double in Munich with Steve Rowbotham. Both were part of last year’s men’s quadruple scull. Each will be hoping to make a medal breakthrough again this year after taking world cup finals bronze in Lucerne in 2005 in the quad.
Success for Britain’s lightweight Olympic-class crews has been sparse over the past four seasons. However, there were signs last year that the pendulum was swinging back upwards.
In the men’s squad a battle is emerging for seats in the two Olympic class boats – the double scull and the men’s four.
James Lindsay-Fynn and Tim Male have won places in the double at Munich after finishing first and second in the trials but they will have an eye out for the injured but returning Londoner Mark Hunter as well as the world silver single scull medallist Zac Purchase of Gloucester, who is still in rehab from injury.
A further announcement is expected soon of more lightweight men’s crews and a lightweight women’s double after further internal trials.
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Munich World Cup – May 25-27
Annie Vernon (Thames)/Anna Bebington (Leander)
Steve Williams (Leander)/Peter Reed (Leander)/
Alex Partridge (Leander)/Andy Hodge (Molesey)
Men’s eight and second men’s four from:
Marcus Bateman (Reading Uni)
Jonno Devlin (0xford Brookes)
Simon Fieldhouse (Molesey)
Toby Garbett (Leander)
Matt Langridge (Leander)
Hugo Lee (Oxford Brookes)
Nick Lloyd (Leander)
Tom Parker (Oxford Uni)
Tom Solesbury (Molesey)
Tom Stallard (Leander)
Josh West (Leander)
Kieran West (Cambridge Uni)
plus Cox Acer Nethercott (Oxford Uni)
Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers)
Matt Wells (Uni of London)/Steve Rowbotham (Leander)
Crews to be announced later
James Lindsay-Fynn (London)/Tim Male (Tideway scullers)
Coaching and Management Team
David Tanner International Manager and Performance Director
Jurgen Grobler Chief Coach, Men
Paul Thompson, Chief Coach, Women and Lightweights
Steve Gunn, Men’s High Performance Coach
Robin Williams, Lightweights High Performance Coach