Seven for Grainger, four for Hodge and Reed
Katherine Grainger picked up her seventh GB Rowing Senior Trials title – this time in a single scull – since 1998, and the men’s pair title was won for the fourth time in a row by Andy Hodge and Peter Reed in a race described by Reed as "the best race we have put together in the past four years".
Whilst Hodge and Reed were jubilant, their Camelot-backed men’s four team-mate and Olympic champion Steve Williams was relegated to the bank when his partner Matt Langridge went down with an illness and had to withdraw. Williams watched a race unfold where Colin Smith and Tom James were the main challengers to the established hierarchy. "We knew that we had to use our length and power to get ahead in the middle part of the race because Colin and Tom are such good sprinters", said Reed afterwards.
Hodge, in the black and white of Molesey Club, set up a relentless pace which Smith and James could not quite match. Behind them Rick Egington and Alex Partridge finished strongly to take third ahead of Robin Bourne-Taylor and Tom Stallard.
Katherine Grainger‘s main contestant today was Debbie Flood who got off to a good start and pressurised the twice Olympic silver medallist in the first half of the race. Grainger’s strength showed through in the second half to propel her to victory. Meanwhile Beth Rodford, in third, and Tina Stiller, in fourth, both impressed.
"It’s always nice to get a good start but when you don’t, you have to put in the work to get there in the end. That’s the kind of thing that comes with experience", said Grainger aftewards.
Played out under grey skies and persistent rain the trials’ finals also featured a fourth win for Alan Campbell in the open men’s single scull and a victory for Mark Hunter in the equivalent lightweight discipline. Neither man was seriously challenged and each talked of all the pressure coming from themselves. Hunter, for a section of the race, gave the impression of a drill sargeant trying and succeeding to keep his troops in line behind him. "I wanted to make sure I closed the door early on the rest", he said aftewards.
Carla Ashford and Alice Freeman were winners of the women’s pair whilst Helen Casey completed a hat-trick of successive lightweight single scull wins.
"We got a good start and moved into an awesome rhythm", said Freeman afterwards of their win which came ahead of a good challenge from Louisa Reeve and Baz Moffat. All four women were winners of world championships bronze last year in the Siemens-sponsored women’s eight.
For Casey there was the pleasure of putting together some good racing after breaking down and rebuilding her technique under the eye of coaches Robin Williams and Darren Whiter during recent training camps. "I have always used my strength in the past to get me through", she said. "But I knew that I had to improve my technique. That means you go slower for a bit before you can build it back up".
Across the regatta, which was partially marred by illness and injury but which did not fall foul of the strong wind conditions which are due to pass through Belgium tomorrow, there were some new names who caught the eye. These included Stiller in the women’s single but also Brendan Crean in the open men’s single scull, in which he reached the final and gave Sam Townsend and Alex Gregory a good race. Whilst at lightweight single scull there were some good performances throughout the weekend from Rob Williams who finished fourth overall and Laura Greenhalgh emerged to take second place behind Casey in today’s equivalent women’s final.
*CAMELOT is the lead sponsor of GB Rowing
(as such they currently sponsor the men’s four and the women’s quadruple scull)
*SIEMENS is the high performance partner of the GB Rowing Team
(as such they currently sponsor the men’s and women’s single and double sculls, pair and eight as well as the lightweight men’s and women’s double sculls, the lightweight men’s four and all the adaptive boats)
*GB Rowing is LOTTERY FUNDED through UK Sport
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1. Alice Freeman (Wallingford)/Carla Ashford (Oxford Brookes) 7:34.41
2. Baz Moffat (Thames RC)/Louisa Reeve (Leander) 7:38.35
3. Jo Cook/Rachel Loveridge (Leander Club) 7:47.77
4. Lindsay Maguire (Wallingford)/Briony Cavell (Wallingford) 7:52.08
5. Emma Windham (Leander)/Vicky Myers (Leander) 7:55.93
1. Katherine Grainger (St Andrew) 7:44.27
2. Debbie Flood (Leander) 7:52.29
3. Beth Rodford (Thames RC) 7:53.82
4. Tina Stiller (Nottingham RC) 8:00.15
5. Elise Laverick (Thames RC) 8:09.40
1. Peter Reed (Leander)/Andy Hodge (Molesey) 6:32.33
2. Colin Smith (Leander)/Tom James (Molesey) 6:37.60
3. Alex Partridge (Leander)/Rick Egington (Leander) 6:40.93
4. Robin Bourne-Taylor (Army)/Tom Stallard (Leander) 6:42.43
5. Alastair Heathcote (Army)/Toby Garbett (Leander) 6:48.13
1. Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers) 7:01.68
2. Steve Rowbotham (Leander Club) 7:08.56
3. Sam Townsend (Reading Uni) 7:14.22
4. Alex Gregory (Reading Uni) 7:15.25
5. Brendan Crean (Agecroft) 7:15.27
1. Helen Casey (Wallingford) 8:06.51
2. Laura Greenhalgh (Reading Uni) 8:08.37
3. Sophie Hosking (London RC) 8:11.50
4. Jane Hall (Leander) 8:28.28
1. Mark Hunter (Leander) 7:11.78
2. Richard Chambers (Oxford Brookes) 7:12.68
3. Alistair Leighton-Crawford (Tideway Scullers) 7:15.56
4. Rob Williams (London RC) 7:17.52
5. Paul Mattick (Wallingford) 7:18.94
6. James Clarke (London RC) 7:25.05
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ADAPTIVE TRIALS REPORT
Tom Aggar, who won the world championships title last year in the Siemens-sponsored single scull reaffirmed his pre-eminent GB squad position today.
Aggar, who has fought his way back to fitness after sustaining a rib injury over the winter, put in a solid performance to come out on top of the matrix.
"Tom has not had an ideal preparation leading up to the trials through injury but he is now back to a good fitness level. We have made a lot of adjustments to Tom’s technique since Munich and today showed he is coping well with those changes," said GB coach Chad King.
Meanwhile competition for the crew boats – the double scull and coxed four – reached new heights despite troublesome conditions.
Saturday’s trial for the mixed adaptive coxed four was so close – despite a very strong head wind that churned up the water – that a final decision has been postponed until further internal trials can be held.
Instead, a squad of five rowers plus a cox has been selected to continue. 2007 world silver medallists Alastair Mckean, Naomi Riches and Vicki Hansford are amongst the five, while experienced cox Alan Sherman has successfully retained his seat from last year. New faces Matthew Pears and James Morgan have also made the grade.
"We have more depth of talent aiming for selection this year than in previous years, particularly in the crew boats. This is healthy for the GB adaptive programme leading into the Paralympic Games," commented King of the competition.
There will also be further trials for the double scull. Helene Raynsford, the British candidate in the women’s single sculls, did not race today because of a recent illness.