And so it begins

[img_assist|nid=1935|title=And so it begins|desc=GB in good shape as Games begin|link=none|align=right|width=448|height=268]

The 2008 Olympic rowing regatta begins on Saturday (9 August) in Beijing, China, with Great Britain’s 43 rowers featuring in 12 of the 14 events. Finals will be contested on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 August.

"We have a tradition at Olympic Games of bringing home medals", said Team GB Rowing Team Manager, David Tanner, today, "and we can take a lot of confidence from that".

"We know that the level of competition out here is outstanding and we will try our best. We have a team with an exceptional breadth of talent", he added.

Amongst GB’s potential leading medal contenders will be the reigning world champions in the women’s quadruple scull, the lightweight men’s double scull who are unbeaten at world cup level this year, as well as the men’s four who were world champions in 2005 and 2006.

Britain men’s and women’s double sculls and men’s eight have all won world cup gold this season as has Alan Campbell in the single scull. He is coming back from a serious infection but is still determined to "dig deep into his soul" to find an Olympic performance. Meanwhile GB’s lightweight men’s four are reigning world champions and, after an uneasy season, will be looking to "put in a performance when it counts" according to James Lindsay-Fynn.

Katherine Grainger, already twice an Olympic silver medallist, heads a women’s team which is seeking to win GB’s first women’s gold since Olympic rowing for women began in 1976. "There are so many crews across our team who can be successful at these Games that it’s inspiring to be part of it. We’ve put in some fantastic performances over the past three years but I think we all know that when you get to the Olympics it’s a clean slate. We won’t be thinking of past results we’ll be thinking of the present moment".

The squad won seven Olympic class medals at last year’s World Championships but has had an injury-disrupted build-up to the Games this season.

"We’ve had a rocky season as anyone who has been following our results will know", said Tanner. "However, I’m pleased to say that the team is now in good shape".

Steve Williams (gold), Frances Houghton, Debbie Flood, Katherine Grainger (silver), Sarah Winckless and Elise Laverick (bronze) are the returning Athens 2004 medallists in the squad.

The youngest athlete is Tom Lucy, aged 20, and Sarah Winckless is the oldest, aged 34.

Great Britain’s men’s single, double, pair and four and the women’s double and pair, all contest heats on Saturday. The following day the heats will include the lightweight men’s and women’s double sculls, the lightweight men’s four, the women’s quadruple scull and the men’s and women’s eights.

Today’s draw produced some tough heats for Saturday’s crews. Britain’s women’s double scull have drawn reigning world champions, Li Qin and Tian Liang of China, with only one boat going through to the final and the remainder moving into repechages. The equivalent men’s boat has pitched GB against veteran Estonian Olympic silver medallist Juri Jaanson and Tonu Endrekson.

GB’s men’s pair faces the reigning Olympic champion Drew Ginn of Australia and his partner Duncan Free. For the fledgling women’s pair of Olivia Whitlam and Louisa Reeve the task might be even more daunting. They race in the lane next door to Viorica Susana and Georgeta Andrunache of Romania who have seven Olympic gold medals between them.

Alan Campbell, meanwhile, has avoided some of his main rivals whilst the men’s four face Italy, world silver medallists in Munich, as well as the USA who were world cup bronze medallists at Lucerne this year.

"We know that when we sit on the start line the opportunity is ours to take", said Andy Triggs Hodge from that GB four. "We’re very optimistic, very aggressive and we know exactly what we need to do here".

Racing on Saturday begins at 14.50 local time (seven hours ahead of the UK).

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE
==============================================================TEAMGB CREW LISTS
Olympic Games 2008, Beijing
(with clubs/home towns/dates of birth)
(listed from bow to stroke as at 7 August)

OPEN

WOMEN

Eight:

Carla Ashford (Oxford Brookes BC/Northallerton/13.03.79)
Beth Rodford (Thames RC/Burton-on-Trent/ 28.12.82)
Natasha Page (Reading Uni/Hartpury/30.04.85)
Natasha Howard (Tideway Scullers/West Runton/3.9.80)
Jess Eddie (Uni of London/Durham/07.10.84)
Sarah Winckless (Walbrook & Royal/Henley/18.10.73)
Alison Knowles (Thames RC/ Bournemouth/27.3.82)
Katie Greves (Leander Club/Oxford/02.09.82)
Caroline O’Connor (Oxford Brookes/Ealing/25.04.83) (cox)

Coach: John Keogh

Pair

Louisa Reeve (Leander/London/16.05.84)/
Olivia Whitlam (Agecroft/Warrington 16.09.85)

Coach: Rob Morgan

Quad Scull

Annie Vernon (Marlow RC/Wadebridge/01.09.82)/Debbie Flood
(Leander Club/Leeds/27.02.80)/Frances Houghton
(Tyrian Club (Uni of London)/Oxford/19.09.80)/Katherine
Grainger (St Andrew BC/Aberdeen/12.11.75)

Coach: Paul Thompson

Double scull

Elise Laverick (Thames RC/Poling, W.Sussex/27.07.75)/
Anna Bebington (Leander Club/Leek, Staffs/13.2.83)

Coach:  Miles Forbes Thomas

Alternates*

Tina Stiller (Nottingham RC/Yarm, N.Yorks/23.6.87)
Alice Freeman (Wallingford RC/Oxford/6.9.78)

MEN

Pair

Robin Bourne-Taylor (Army RC/Oxford/22.07.81)/Tom Solesbury
(Molesey BC/Petts Wood, Kent/23.09.80)

Coach:  Peter Sheppard

Four

Tom James (Molesey/Wrexham/11.3.84)/Steve Williams
(Leander Club/Cheltenham/15.04.76)/Peter Reed (Leander Club/
Nailsworth, Glos/27.07.81)/Andy Triggs Hodge (Molesey BC/Hebden,
N.Yorks/03.03.79)

Coach: Jurgen Grobler

Eight

Alex Partridge (Leander Club/Alton, Hants/25.01.81)/
Tom Stallard (Leander/Welwyn, Herts/11.09.78)/
Tom Lucy (Oxford Brookes/Monmouth/01.05.88)/
Richard Egington (Leander/Knutsford/26.02.79)/
Josh West (Leander/Santa Fe, USA/25.03.77)/
Alastair Heathcote (Army RC/London/18.8.77)/
Matt Langridge(Leander Club/Northwich/20.05.83)/
Colin Smith  (Leander/Henley on Thames/23.09.83)/
Acer Nethercott (University College Oxford BC/Harlow/28.11.77)
(cox)

Coaches:  Mark Banks, John West

Single Scull

Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers/Coleraine/9.5.83)

Coach: Bill Barry

Double Scull

Matt Wells (Leander Club/Hexham, Northumberland/19.4.79)/
Stephen Rowbotham (Leander Club/Winscombe, Somerset/11.11.81)

Coach: Mark Earnshaw

Men’s Alternates*

Tom Parker  (Oxford Brookes/Winchester/24.10.82)
Alex Gregory (Reading Uni/Wormington/11.03.84)

LIGHTWEIGHT

WOMEN

Double scull

Hester Goodsell (Reading Uni/Cambridge/27.06.84)
Helen Casey (Wallingford RC/Oxford/06.02.74)/

Coach: Rob Morgan

MEN

Four

Richard Chambers (Oxford Brookes/Coleraine/10.06.85)/
James Lindsay-Fynn (London/Trim/29.09.75)/Paul Mattick
(Wallingford/Oxford/25.04.78)/James Clarke (London RC/
London/31.12.84)

Coach: Robin Williams

Double scull

Zac Purchase (Marlow RC/Tewkesbury, Glos/02.05.86)/
Mark Hunter (Leander Club/Romford, Essex/01.07.78)

Coach: Darren Whiter

Lightweight Men’s Alternate*

Rob Williams (London RC/Maidenhead/21.01.1985)

* Alternate=Reserve

TEAM OFFICIALS

ACCREDITED TEAM OFFICIALS

Team Leader:
David Tanner

Chief Coaches:
Jurgen Grobler, Paul Thompson

Coaches:
Miles Forbes-Thomas, John Keogh, Robin Williams, Darren Whiter,
Rob Morgan, Bill Barry, Mark Earnshaw, Mark Banks, John West, Peter Sheppard

Support staff:
Maggie Netto, Maurice Hayes.

Medical staff:
Ali Sanders, Mark Edgar

Press officer:
Caroline Searle

ADDITIONAL TRAVELLING STAFF

All medical/sports science:

Pam Gardner, Gill Edmonson, Ryan Bathurst, Al Smith, Mark Homer,
Chris Shambrook

Translator:

Jennifer Song

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