Hodge and Grainger take fourth titles

Andy Hodge and Katherine Grainger took their fourth career titles at The GB Senior Rowing Trials in Hazewinkel, Belgium, today in the men’s pair and women’s single scull respectively.

World men’s four champions Hodge and Peter Reed were imperious in a victory by six seconds, in a time of 6:27.99 over Olympic and world champion Steve Williams and former world junior champion Matt Langridge.

"Andy was on fire from 750m onwards", said Peter Reed of his partner afterwards.  "I think we felt if we went out hard we could win like we did".

"It wasn’t that we rowed badly", said Williams. "We just couldn’t live with that today".

Twice Olympic silver medallist Grainger took an early lead leaving a photo-finish battle in her wake which was won by tiny margins of a second by Annie Vernon.

"That’s the way I would have wanted to race it", said Grainger of her victory in 7:35.91. "I like to get out front and then control the race from there".

Alan Campbell, world cup overall winner last year in his debut senior international season in the single scull, won his second men’s single scull title in succession in a time of 6:53.85 but was pushed all the way by Matt Wells, a world championships double scull bronze medallist in 2006.

The men’s and women’s lightweight singles titles went, as expected, to Helen Casey and reigning world champion, Zac Purchase in 7:47.34 and 6:56.19.

Alison Knowles and Natasha Howard emerged from the vibrant women’s sweep group to record a  victory in the pair in 7:15.54.

All of GB’s athlete will now wait to see who is selected for the first world cup of the season which takes place in early June. An announcement is expected in the first fortnight in May.

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RACE REPORTS

For Great Britain’s squad rowers the annual GB Senior Rowing Trials in Belgium are the moment when the gloves come off and the fight is on after a winter of sparring each other in training.

"It does become a bit like that", said Katherine Grainger, who was part of the Camelot-sponsored women’s quad last season, after her women’s single scull victory today. "You know everyone’s strengths – and it’s great that we have world and Olympic medallists lining up in our national trials – but you have to be completely ruthless. The only thing that matters is crossing the line first".

Grainger, after a good start and an early lead, always looked capable of fulfilling her aim. That left the rest to develop a race of their own behind her.   Debbie Flood was the leader of the pack for most of the way with Annie Vernon, Anna Bebington and Elise Laverick tucked in behind her.

With 1500m to go it looked as if Grainger and Flood would get first and second but Vernon had different ideas. By 1700m she had achieved an overlap and by the line she was close enough to sneak it by mere tenths of a second from Flood. Bebington was fourth with Laverick in fifth.  Two other Olympic medallists were missing from this final – Fran Houghton who withdrew overnight with a high temperature and Sarah Winckless who is currently injured.

Whilst the leading women competed here in sculling boats the women’s sweep squad is developing its own momentum.  The  opening 500m today’s women’s pair final was a three-boat race between the national squad pairings with Beth Rodford and Natasha Page showing well.  "But we made our move in the second 500m ", said Alison Knowles who with Natasha Howard proved the eventual winners.  "That’s when we hit our rhythm and felt comfortable".

"We knew, though, that Page and Rodford have a flying finish on them but we just had enough today", said Howard.

The men’s pair final, by contrast, had one set of winners’ names on the trophy almost from the outset.  Andy Hodge and Peter Reed, part of the Camelot-backed world champion men’s four in 2005 and 2006, had taken a lead by 500m, a length by the 750m mark and still kept their pedal to the metal to win by six seconds.

Behind them Steve Williams and Matt Langridge always had an edge over their main rivals who turned out to be world cup silver medal winner in 2006, Colin Smith and Tom Lucy – the latter being just 18 years old and recently moved up from the junior squad.

"I thought we could maybe make the final if we rowed well here", said Smith afterwards.  "But third is an amazing result".

James Orme and Tom Stallard have also had a good weekend. They emerged into fourth place from a battle with Josh West and Hugo Lee.  Cambridge’s Kieran West and Tom James were sixth.

Alan Campbell, after his dramatic emergence as a world class Siemens-sponsored single sculler last season, was always tipped to win the men’s single scull here. The man from Coleraine duly obliged but was pushed to the very line by Matthew Wells, a former world U23 winner, who stepped up to the world senior medals podium last season with Stephen Rowbotham, third today, in a men’s double scull, sponsored by Siemens.

Rowbotham and Leander’s Ian Lawson fought a  tight battle behind Campbell and Wells all the way down the course before Rowbotham finally got ahead at the 1750m mark.

"Matt Wells must be the most adaptable sculler we have in Britain", said Campbell afterwards. "He can certainly change his race plan and I’m pleased to win today but probably didn’t respond as well as I could to his sprints. Because of the strength in depth that we have in British sculling the Trials are now one of the toughest races of the season".

Zac Purchase has smoothly moved up the rowing ladder over the past three years – from a teenaged world U23 champion, to world senior silver and then gold medallist.  Today he proved his strength once more by winning the trial from seasoned campaigner Mark Hunter who battled with him bow to bow all the way down the course in one of the best races of the day in which James Lindsay-Fynn was third. All three must now wait to see who will be selected for the Olympic double.

Helen Casey won the equivalent women’s boat class by taking it out from the front and never faltering.  "It was good fun out there today. That’s one of the best races I’ve had", she said despite being aware that Jane Hall, her double scull partner from last season was absent through injury.

World U23 champion Hester Goodsell was second with squad newcomer Mathilde Pauls in third place.
 
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RESULTS

A FINALS

OPEN

WOMEN

Pair

1.  Natasha Howard (Tideway Scullers)/Alison Knowles
(Thames RC)  7:15.54
2.  Beth Rodford (Thames RC)/Natasha Page (Reading Uni)
7:17.60
3.  Katie Greves (Uni of London)/Carla Ashford (Thames RC)
7:20.47
4.  Georgina Menheneott (Mortlake Anglian & Alpha)/
Louisa Reeve (Leander Club) 7:23.05
5.  Baz Moffat (Thames RC)/Jessica Eddie (Uni of London)
7:28.61
6.  Vicki Etiebet (Auriol Kensington)/Rebecca Rowe (Rebecca)
7:30.71

Single scull

1.  Katherine Grainger (St Andrew BC)  7:35.91
2.  Annie Vernon (Thames RC) 7:40.67
3.  Debbie Flood (Leander Club)  7:40.82
4.  Anna Bebington (Leander Club)  7:41.02
5.  Elise Laverick (Thames RC)  7:50.26

MEN

Pair

1.  Peter Reed (Leander)/Andy Hodge (Molesey) 6:27.99
2.  Matt Langridge (Leander Club)/Steve Williams (Leander
Club)  6:33.97
3.  Tom Lucy (Oxford Brookes)/Colin Smith (Leander)
6:36.45
4.  James Orme (Leander Club)/Tom Stallard (Leander
Club) 6:38.59
5.  Josh West (Leander Club)/Hugo Lee (Oxford Brookes)
6:40.35
6.  Tom James/Kieran West (Cambridge Uni) 6:44.59

Single scull

1. Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers) 6:53.85
2.  Matt Wells (Leander Club) 6:54.40
3.  Steve Rowbotham (Leander Club)  6:58.72
4.  Ian Lawson (Leander Club)  7:00.52
5.  Alex Gregory (Reading Uni)  7:08.31
6.  Sam Townsend (Reading Uni)  7:13.81

LIGHTWEIGHT

WOMEN

Single scull

1.  Helen Casey (Wallingford)  7:47.34
2.  Hester Goodsell (Rob Roy)  7:52.30
3.  Mathilde Pauls (Imperial College)  7:53.54
4.  Andrea Dennis (Wallingford RC)  7:55.21
5.  Jen Goldsack (Wallingford RC)  7:56.01
6.  Laura Greenhalgh (Rob Roy BC) 8:02.27

MEN

Single scull

1. Zac Purchase (Marlow RC)  6:56.19
2.  Mark Hunter (Leander Club)  6:58.59
3.  James Lindsay-Fynn (London RC)  7:04.96
4.  Paul Mattick (Wallingford RC)  7:05.64
5.  Alistair Leighton-Crawford (Tideway Scullers) 7:09.87
6.  Richard Chambers (Oxford Brookes) 7:11.14

B FINALS

OPEN

WOMEN

Pair

1. Alice Freeman (Wallingford RC)/Lindsey Maguire
(Birmingham Uni)  7:25.44
2.  Jo Cook (Leander Club)/Vicky Myers (Leander Club)
7:28.62
3.  Heather Stanning (Uni of Bath)/Olivia Whitlam
(Agecroft RC) 7:28.81
4.  Roz Collings (Nottingham RC)/Vicky Bryant
(Oxford Brookes) 7:38.28
5.  Rachael Jefferies (Cambridge Uni)/Stephanie
McDowall (Aberdeen Uni) 7:40.34
6.  Louisa Rowbotham (Leander Club)/Rachel Loveridge
(Leander Club)  7:41.90

Single scull

1. Ruth Walczak (Hollingworth Lake RC)  7:56.83
2.  Lauren Fisher (Reading Uni)  8:01.17
3.  Franki Jus-Burke (Nottingham RC)  8:07.03
4.  Kirsty Myles (Oxford Brookes RC)  8:13.66
5.  Florence Temple (Thames RC)  8:16.68

MEN

Pair

1. Robin Bourne-Taylor (Army RC)/Alastair Heathcote
(Army RC) 6:42.94
2.  Tom Wilkinson (Leander Club)/Charles Burkitt
(Leander Club) 6:42.94
3.  Alex Partridge (Leander Club)/Tom Solesbury
(Molesey BC) 6:45.08
4.  Jonno Devlin (Oxford Brookes)/Marcus Bateman
(Leander Club) 6:45.29
5.  Tom Ransley (York City RC)/Colin Scott (Goldie BC)  6:54.22
6.  Mohamed Sbihi (Molesey BC)/Lewis Beech (Stourport)
6:54.46

Single scull

1.  Bill Lucas (Reading Uni)  7:04.94
2.  Simon Fieldhouse (Molesey BC)  7:05.15
3.  Charles Cousins (Rob Roy BC)  7:06.47
4.  Brendan Crean (Agecroft RC)  7:12.06
5.  Charlie Palmer (Leander Club) 7:14.03
6.  Will Laughton (Imperial College BC)  7:15.78

LIGHTWEIGHT

WOMEN

Single scull

1.  Naomi Hoogesteger (Uni of London)  7:55.81
2.  Laura Ralston (London RC)  7:59.07
3.  Sophie Hosking (Durham Uni)  8:00.54
4.  Steph Mottram (Marlow RC)  8:02.66
5.  Frances Fletcher (Durham Uni) 8:11.33
6.  Steph Cullen (London RC)  8:11.77

MEN

Single scull

1.  James Clarke (London RC)  7:08.14
2.  Danny Harte (London RC)  7:08.44
3.  Rob Williams (London RC)  7:12.04
4.  Matt Beechey (Leander Club)  7:16.70
5.  Adam Freeman-Pask (Imperial College BC)  7:17.28
6.  Ross Hunter (Leander Club)  7:20.56
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