GB Rowing Team has had its best world cup season ever
The GB Rowing Team has had its best world cup season ever, culminating in four golds, four silvers and three bronzes on Lucerne’s Rotsee in the biggest world cup of all time.
“This is our best world cup season ever. All the world was here in Lucerne so to come away with so many medals has been an exceptional whole team performance’, said GB Rowing Team Performance Director, David Tanner.
“I’m very proud of our rowers, coaches, and the back-up team that has helped us produce this level of results”, added the man not normally known for getting emotional.
Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins delivered two of the golds when they delivered a brace of dominant wins in the double and quadruple scull events – the latter in tandem with Beth Rodford and Annabel Vernon.
“This has been very special”, said Grainger afterwards. “The days don’t get much better than this”, added Watkins.
The lightweight men’s four came from behind to win by a whisker from world champions Denmark to gain GB’s third gold and the fourth had earlier come from a powerful men’s four performance.
Whilst the men’s pair and lightweight women’s double scull were disappointed with silvers they vowed to draw on that feeling as motivation in the months before the World Championships in November in New Zealand.
Conversely Alan Campbell reversed a downbeat spell to win silver in today’s single scull final with all the world’s top racers in action here bar Marcel Hacker of Germany who is injured. Marcus Bateman and Matt Wells, in the double scull, lost out to their French rivals to take silver but were upbeat about a consistent season in which, as a new combination, they have learnt a lot.
The still-developing GB men’s quadruple scull were bronze medallists in a tough field and the two GB eights gave a rousing end to the day’s racing programme by each taking a bronze medal – the men having to beat the Olympic champions to do so.
“It’s like a dream to win so many medals at Lucerne”, said men’s chief coach Jurgen Grobler of the place which annually hosts the world cup finals.
Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase were beaten as a lightweight men’s double scull in a major event for the first time since the 2007 World Championships when they took fifth place here and Debbie Flood, coming back into full training and competition after a year out of the sport, was also fifth in the single scull.
Great Britain’s performances across the season meant that they won the overall world cup for the third year in succession taking the overall world cup title in eight of the Olympic class events.
The GB Rowing Team men’s four knew that they needed to be on top-line form to win the world cup final and take the overall yellow jersey for the season.
In today’s final the reigning world champions started strongly and had a good lead with 400m gone into the race. Then the power came on and they drove forward to have a lead of clearwater at halfway with France second and New Zealand in third.
Matt Langridge at stroke kept the pace up and Alex Gregory, Ric Egington and the seasoned-racer at bow, Alex Partridge, responded. Like a train, but not a runaway one, the GB quartet kept on rolling in their controlled and powerful style to the line to win in 5:55.15 from New Zealand and France.
“I’m really proud of that race”, said Partridge. “We performed really badly in Munich so we knew we had to do something. We missed Henley Royal Regatta which we love but it was worth it. I feel proud of the guys”.
“We were papering over the cracks with power earlier in the season”, said Egington. “Mark Banks our coach was really hard on us after Munich and he was right”.
Langridge added: “We knew that we didn’t have a good race in Munich but we took confidence from the fact that we did the same thing last year and when we came into Lucerne we were a different crew. So we knew that if we did three weeks’ hard training that we could put together a much better race here”.
Alex Gregory said: “It felt like a different boat today. We wanted to row a more simple race and we were rowing much longer. The start was so much better today. Alex Partridge called it and we were ready to go. Then in the strongest part of our race the rhythm came on”.
New Zealand and Great Britain went head-to-head in the men’s pair final at the world cup once more. Would this be the day that Andrew Triggs Hodge and Pete Reed got on the score sheet against the world champions Eric Murray and Hamish Bond? In the end, it was close for some of the race but not closer than Munich last month.
Neither crew dominated the first 500m with Germany leading at that stage. In the middle of the race, the world’s top two pairs surged away from the field. Gradually, the New Zealanders, unbeaten this year or last, moved out in front.
The GB supporters’ hopes were raised with 300m to go when the Hodge and Reed moved up on the Kiwis but it was short-lived as Murray and Bond, clearly under pressure, somehow found another gear to win. Britain were second and the second-ranked
Greek crew took bronze.
“I’m disappointed it wasn’t as close as Munich but it was still a good race”, said Hodge afterwards.
“We needed to have the perfect race to beat these guys. We got close but not quite there. We had rhythm and stuck to our race plan”, added Reed.
The start of a men’s eight race also produces a frisson of excitement such is the intensity of adrenalin and action off the start. This time round, the GB men’s eight were on the pace from the outset. Only Canada, the Olympic champions were quicker to 500m. Germany, with their dubbed “super-eight” were eye-catching too, and found some pace to go past the British eight stroked by Dan Ritchie.
When Canada and Germany tried to stretch out the field, GB went with them. This was turning into a stunning race for the GB eight. They held their composure, held their pace in the final, frenzied dash for the line and took bronze – a significant step up for the crew given the calibre of the field here.
“That was a good step on – we’ve made some really good progress in the last few weeks but we have a lot of work to do”, said Tom Wilkinson.
“We developed a new race strategy and really attacked the race”, said James Clarke.
“We have developed a lot as a crew but there are still some things to work on”, said Tom Broadway.
“I’m really pleased with today’s race. The Canadians will be hurt after this and will probably train like animals for the next few months so we will have to train even harder”, said James Orme.
The men’s double scull final was also billed as a potential head-to-head between Marcus Bateman and Matt Wells of Britain and Cedric Berrest and Julien Bahain of France.
France got the better of the first 25 strokes but by the 500m mark GB were ahead – just. Two hundredths of a second separated the two crews with Estonia and the Czech Republic in close quarters. Just before halfway the French put in a push and GB responded but their rivals had a two-thirds length lead and were trying to consolidate that.
Both crews moved ahead of the remainder of the field but not enough to drop the chasing pack. At 1500m GB were still two seconds down and the French scullers, both from Toulouse, looked good.
Bateman and Wells battled to get back. They launched a counter-attack which brought them within half a length but the French held on for victory in 6:18.51. The British duo were second and the fast-finishing New Zealanders were third.
“We can be really proud of our campaign this year, said Wells. “The event has moved on since last year and we have had nine tough races in three weeks”.
“I’ve learnt a lot from racing with Matt. These intensive steps up. This has given me a taste of what the world championships will be like”, added Bateman.
Earlier in the day, the men’s quadruple scull of Stephen Rowbotham, Charles Cousins, Bill Lucas and Sam Townsend had become Britain’s 13th finalist of the day with a second-placed finish in the semi-finals behind Germany but ahead of Russia.
Their route to final berth no.13 had already been unlucky. In yesterday’s semi-finals their race was halted when a buoy line broke on the course. They returned three hours later to warm up for the re-row only to be forced to abandon it all once more when a fierce thunder and lightning storm ripped through Lucerne uprooting trees and turning roads into rivers.
In the final today they were in contention from the outset in a race where Germany took the early lead followed by Russia and Great Britain. Croatia put on a turn of speed to take second place by 1500m and as Germany and Croatia battled for gold and silver, GB kept in the hunt and consolidated their third place to take bronze in 5:52.42 as well as plaudits for the way they have
improved as racers.
“I’m really pleased with what we’ve done. The event has stepped on since Munich and we have stepped on with it”, said Cousins.
“We have created a good platform for the next bit of the season”.
“We had a good heat here but then had to abandon our semi-final. that was a lesson to us that we can’t give away any seats in any race. Today was really spot on for us. We haven’t had much training in the new combination. Now it’s back to basics
and work on technique. We have raced better here and we have shown what we are capable of”, said Rowbotham.
“We had a pretty good start and were up with the pace of the race. We are still learning”, said Lucas.
“Everyone has upped their game here so to get a bronze feels as if we have improved”, said Townsend.
Alan Campbell has not been in the best of spirits of late and thought, after his perforamance in Munich and problems with his back, that he might not race here. A chat with Jurgen Grobler changed his mind.
“And Jurgen was right”, grinned a delighted Campbell after taking silver here behind Ondrej Synek but ahead of the reigning world champion Mahe Drysdale who has also had his injury worries and the Olympic champion Olaf Tufte.
Campbell was in contention with Synek throughout and held off the chasing pack to take silver.
“I’ve had really good support here”, said Campbell after the race. “The team’s been great and my fiancee is here which also means a lot”.
Anna Watkins had predicted a close race with Australia in their women’s double scull race. She and Grainger were not wrong. The GB crew moved up through the field from 500m onwards and had the lead at halfway as well as at 1000m. The overall world cup leaders kept the pressure on as the crews fought stroke for stroke along the grandstands. By the finish they had victory by a length in 6:50.53. Australia took silver and the USA were third.
A few hours later, and under still baking sun, Watkins and Grainger were back joined with Beth Rodford and Annabel Vernon. Having lost to Germany three weeks ago in Munich, the British really wanted to win this final.
It started well, it was fantastic in the middle and it ended brilliantly. Gold in 6:23.50 with the Ukraine second and Germany in third. Ukraine, as world champions, also got a good start and were within a quarter-second of the British at 500m before Grainger stroked her boat into a bigger and bigger lead. From halfway, barring a major incident, it was all over bar the victory celebrations
which involved Annie Vernon leaping into the lake to cool off before the boat had even reached the medal rostrum pontoon.
“We knew that we had to go out from the very first stroke and be on our game”, said Rodford.
“It is always the biggest entry of the year in Lucerne so we knew what we had to do. We didn’t quite get the rowing right in Munich and we wanted to change that here”, said Grainger.
“It was a good fight in the double and we wanted to put a really good race together here in the quad. The days don’t get much better than these”, said Watkins.
“We always knew it would be difficult to call as there have been times in the heats that five crews have been level at halfway”, added Vernon.
“We wanted to race aggressively and make it tough for everyone else”, she said.
The GB Rowing Team’s women’s eight have stepped on this year in stature. They have made the podium twice at world cup level already in 2010 but knew that today’s race would be, potentially, the toughest yet.
Starting strongly, they were in second at the first timing point behind Canada who beat them at Henley last week and who have emerged, alongside Romania and the USA, as strong crews this season.
By the 1500m mark, Britain had slipped behind the USA to take third with a big gap behind them to Germany in fourth. As Canada led the field along the grandstand stretch the USA turned on the speed and pipped Canada by two-tenths at the line with Britain in third, consolidating what has been a great debut season for this new British combination.
“Every world cup has been against tough opposition so to get on every podium has been good”, said Louisa Reeve. “We have a lot of focus. Everyone is behind it”.
“We had a really fantastic start and got into well. The Americans then got a good pace up. It’s really good that a GB crew is on the podium again, I don’t think there has been a GB eight that has been so consistent”.
“I didn’t really think about all this at the start of the season”, said Vicky Thornley about her first season at senior level. “I was just concentrating on getting a seat in the boat. So it’s really good to win medals. We’ve still got the world championships to come so that’s the next thing to concentrate on”.
“I’m pleased, we said we wanted to change something and we did. We got a much better start”, said Knowles.
“We were really pleased with that start’, said Cook. “We’ve medalled at every world cup but we need to keep raising our game and we have such confidence in each other”.
“We need to be bit more consistent through the race and and we need to keep improving but we have definitely stepped on here’, said Page.
“It was a very different kind of race today. We had learnt a lot from Munich and we will keep tweaking things and finding more speed”, said Whitlam.
Debbie Flood was pleased to reach the women’s single scull final here as she is coming back into full training. She flew down the first 1000m before fading slightly in the second half, taking fifth place.
“It’s a really good step up from Bled where I was ninth”, said said.
Sophie Hosking and Hester Goodsell started today’s final as overall world cup leaders and sealed the overall winner’s deal with silver
behind Australia today. Being perfectionists and driven in everything they do, the overall trophy will be scant consolation for today’s defeat despite a strong effort to come back from fifth to second in the final 400m.
“It was a tight race and one we can learn from”, said Hosking afterwards. “I know it sounds strange but the memories of losing stay with you. It can be a motivation in training”.
“It is disappointing to have lost but the one positive is that we are getting used to tight racing. Last year we didn’t have to do that until the World Championships”, added Goodsell.
Australia, not particularly fancied here as a medal prospect, worked their way up from sixth to first whilst the British double
were fourth until 1500m before making up ground and overhauling two of the chasing pack and the Greek eventual bronze medallists to take silver.
Britain left the best until last in their lightweight men’s four final today featuring Chris Bartley, Paul Mattick, Rob Williams and Richard Chambers. They were fourth at halfway with Switzerland out front, Italy second and Denmark, the world champions, third. With the boats in a tightly-contested flat-line rather than a racing chevron at the 1500m the spectators sensed this could be the race of
Had GB gone too soon? Would the Danes unleash their famous finishing sprint? The answer was “no’ and “yes” in that order. Denmark came back hard but the British had just enough as they crossed the line.
The manner of victory, and the seriously good timing of the final sprint, certainly made the victory sweeter for the British supporters in the crowd. GB in 6:01.07, followed by Denmark in 6:01.14 with Italy third.
“The field here is incredible. It feels like the world championships”, said Mattick. “We have had tough races ever since Bled and we had to do four races here. I’ve never had to do that. It’s so exciting”, he added as he hugged and thanked coach Rob Morgan.
“It makes up for those years when I wasn’t getting much out of the sport”, said Bartley. “We have had 10 races and won nine. It feels really good. We did exactly what we said we would do here. We had the confidence to do it”.
“We knew the field would go off quickly and they really made it tough for us. In the last 500m we hd done our push and moved into the lead but all of a sudden the Danes came back at us and it was incredible what they managed to do. This has been a really good regatta so to come out here and win is incredible”, said Chambers.
Williams added: “This is the hardest lightweight men’s four regatta that I’ve ever seen. We thought if the other crews were quicker than us in the first 500m that they would pay for it at the end”.
Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase could not quite believe their victory last month in Munich in their first world cup for almost two years. Here in Lucerne a reality-check was almost expected as the combination have not been in their top form in training.
At 500m gone in the lightweight men’s double scull final the British were back in fifth but in a tight field. By halfway that position had not changed. The World Champions from New Zealand, Storm Uru and Peter Taylor, looked set to get revenge for defeat in Munich. They led with Canada second and Germany third.
As the race moved into the final phase the New Zealanders had two seconds on Canada with Germany in third. Hunter and Purchase could not find the pace to haul themselves back into the medal zone and were fifth in 6:26.16.
FISA today presented the prestigious Thomas Keller medal to Australia’s James Tomkins. He won three Olympic gold medals in a career that spanned 23 years.
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(Races featuring GB Crews only. Full results
1. USA 6:12.19
2. Canada 6:12.39
3. Jo Cook/Louisa Reeve/Natasha Page/Victoria Thornley/Jessica Eddie/Lindsey Maguire/Olivia Whitlam/Alison Knowles/Caroline O’Connor (cox) (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:17.35
4. Netherlands 6:22.31
5. China 6:23.42
6. Germany 6:23.69
1. Ekaterina Karsten-Khodotovitch (Belarus) 7:31.27
2. Mirka Knapkova (Czech Republic) 7:33.57
3. Frida Svensson (Sweden) 7:37.32
4. Donata Vistartaite (Lithuania) 7:43.31
5. Debbie Flood (GREAT BRITAIN) 7:49.42
6. Julia Levina (Russia) 7:52.01
1. Anna Watkins/Katherine Grainger (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:50.53
2. Kim Crow/Sally Kehoe (Australia) 6:52.60
3. Stesha Carle/Kathleen Bertco (USA 1) 6:57.39
4. Lenka Antosova/Jitka Antosova (Czech Republic) 6:57.77
5. Megan Kalmoe/Margot Shumway (USA 2) 6:59.40
6. Annekatrin Thiele/Stephanie Schiller (Germany) 7:05.19
1. Eric Murray/Hamish Bond (New Zealand) 6:25.15
2. Peter Reed/Andrew Triggs Hodge (GREAT BRITAIN 1) 6:27.71
3. Georgios Tziallas/Ioannis Christou (Greece 2) 6:31.54
4. Nikolaos Gkountoulas/Apostolos Gkountoulas (Greece 1) 6:34.62
5. Niccolo Mornati/Lorenzo Carboncini (Italy) 6:38.76
6. Andreas Kuffner/Felix Drahotta (Germany 1) 6:45.06
1. Germany 5:30.32
2. Australia 5:31.31
3. Tom Wilkinson/James Clarke/James Orme/James Foad/Mohamed Sbihi/Gregory Searle/Thomas Broadway/Daniel Ritchie/Phelan Hill (cox) (GREAT BRITAIN) 5:32.23
4. Canada 5:33.82
5. Poland 5:34.86
6. USA 5:37.80
1. Ondrej Synek (Czech Republic) 6:52.82
2. Alan Campbell (GREAT BRITAIN 1) 6:55.21
3. Mahe Drysdale (New Zealand 1) 6:58.18
4. Malcolm Howard (Canada) 7:00.82
5. Olaf Tufte (Norway) 7:03.33
6. Lassi Karonen (Sweden) 7:04.13
1. Cedric Berrest/Julien Bahain (France) 6:18.51
2. Matthew Wells/Marcus Bateman (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:19.20
3. Nathan Cohen/Joseph Sullivan (New Zealand) 6:20.17
4. Allar Raja/Kaspar Taimsoo (Estonia 1) 6:23.07
5. Andre Vonarburg/Florian Stofer (Switzerland) 6:25.13
6. Petr Vitasek/David Jirka (Czech Republic) 6:26.30
1. Alice McNamara/Hannah Every-Hall (Australia) 7:07.85
2. Hester Goodsell/Sophie Hosking (GREAT BRITAIN) 7:09.18
3. Triantafyllia Kalampoka/Christina Giazitzidou (Greece) 7:10.80
4. Jo Hammond/Evi Geentjens (Belgium) 7:11.97
5. Daniela Reimer/Anja Noske (Germany 1) 7:13.46
6. Magdalena Kemnitz/Agnieszka Renc (Poland) 7:14.02
1. Storm Uru/Peter Taylor (New Zealand) 6:21.98
2. Linus Lichtschlag/Lars Hartig (Germany) 6:24.51
3. Douglas Vandor/Cameron Sylvester (Canada) 6:24.88
4. Lorenzo Bertini/Elia Luini (Italy) 6:25.55
5. Zac Purchase/Mark Hunter (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:26.16
6. Fangbing Zhang/Tiexin Wang (China 1) 6:28.81
1. Marko Marjanovic/Nikola Stojic (Serbia 1) 6:32.72
2. Nanne Sluis/Rogier Blink (Netherlands) 6:33.40
3. Cameron Nichol/Tom Burton (GREAT BRITAIN 2) 6:34.43
4. Jacob Cornelius/Charles Cole (USA) 6:35.23
5. Philipp Naruhn/Florian Eichner (Germany 2) 6:42.61
6. Shaun Keeling/Ramon Di Clemente (South Africa) 6:51.40
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GB ROWING TEAM ENTRIES
2010 Rowing World Cup, Lucerne, Switzerland (9-11 July)
(listed bow to stroke plus cox)
Jo Cook (Leander Club/Sunbury-on-Thames/22.03.84)/
Louisa Reeve (LeanderClub/London/16.05.84)/
Natasha Page (Reading Uni BC/Hartpury/30.04.85)/
Victoria Thornley (Minerva Bath/Wrexham/30.11.87)/
Jessica Eddie (Uni of London BC/Durham/07.10.84)/
Lindsey Maguire (Wallingford RC/Edinburgh/15.01.82)/
Olivia Whitlam (Agecroft RC/Warrington/16.09.85)/
Alison Knowles (Thames RC/Bournemouth/27.03.82)/
Caroline O’Connor (Oxford Brookes Uni BC/Ealing/25.04.83) (cox)
Debbie Flood (Leander Club/Guiseley/27.02.80)/
Double scull – two boats
Pair – two boats
Peter Reed (Leander Club/Nailsworth, Glos/27.07.81)/
Andrew Triggs Hodge (Molesey BC/Hebden, N.Yorks/03.03.79)
Cameron Nichol (Molesey/Glastonbury/26.6.87)/
Tom Burton (Leander Club/Barton-le-Clay, Beds/24.05.80)
Tom Wilkinson (Leander Club/Reading/04.07.85)/
James Clarke (London RC/London/31.12.84)/
James Orme (Leander Club/Colchester/01.04.84)/
James Foad (Molesey BC/Southampton/20.03.87)/
Mohamed Sbihi (Molesey BC/Surbiton/27.03.88)/
Greg Searle (Molesey BC/Marlow/20.03.72)/
Tom Broadway (Leander Club/Newport Pagnell/21.08.82)
Daniel Ritchie (Herne Bay RC/Herne Bay/06.01.87)/
Phelan Hill (cox) (Leander Club/Bedford/21.07.79)
Single scull – two boats
Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers/Coleraine/09.05.83)
Brendan Crean (Agecroft/Lewes/07.02.85)
Matthew Wells (Leander Club/Hexham, Northumberland/19.04.79)
Marcus Bateman (Leander Club/Torquay/16.09.82)/
Charles Cousins (Reading Uni BC/Cambridge/13.12.88)/
Sam Townsend (Reading Uni BC/Reading/26.11.85)/
Bill Lucas (Reading Uni BC/Kingswear/13.09.87)/
Stephen Rowbotham (Leander Club/Winscombe, Somerset/11.11.81)/
Andrea Dennis (Reading Uni BC/Oxford/03.01.82)
Hester Goodsell (Reading Uni BC/London/27.06.84)/
Sophie Hosking (London RC/Wimbledon/25.01.86)
Chris Boddy (Leander Club/Stockton-on-Tees/16.11.87)/
Adam Freeman-Pask (Imperial College BC/Windsor/19.06.85)
Zac Purchase (Marlow RC/Tewkesbury/02.05.86)/
Mark Hunter (Leander Club/Romford, Essex/01.07.78)