GB rowers mark six months to Paralympic Games

The GB Rowing Team’s adaptive rowers celebrated six months to go to the Paralympic Games this week but with selection trials looming there was no let up in training.

The squad’s focus is on the adaptive trials at their national training base near Reading on March 10-11 which will see the rowers race among themselves before final testing to decide who will compete at the Varese International Regatta in April.

“With six months to go I’m really happy with the state of the squad,” said lead adaptive coach Tom Dyson. “We’ve got trials coming up which is a really good opportunity to see where everyone’s at six weeks before our first big regatta of the year. It’s an important set of trials but we can still play with the combinations.”

Pam Relph, World Champion in the 2011 mixed coxed four, is training hard hoping to experience her first Paralympic Games. She said: “It’s becoming quite real. There’s pressure but everyone’s getting excited. We’ve got trials coming up so it’s a good chance for the coaches to test who is up to speed. The buzz at the moment is fantastic so I can’t imagine what it is going to be like in six months time.”

The squad has already qualified boats for the Games in three Paralympic categories (men’s single, mixed double and mixed coxed four) and competition for places is strong. Londoner Ryan Chamberlain, who won a World silver medal in the four in 2010, is one of those staking a claim for a seat at the Games after missing out on the 2011 Worlds.

“Everyone is focused on what they need to do,” he said. “It’s a case of getting your head down and trying to make every session count. You have just got to keep focused on what you can do to make the boat go faster and not focus on the people around you. Everything after the trials revolves around how the trials go.”

The squad managed to avoid the worst of the cold snap in the UK last month when their usual training lake froze solid. And their impeccably timed training camp in Spain also enabled the rowers to take an enforced break from the hype building in the British media ahead of London 2012.

“We were in Banyoles and it was pretty cold out there too but we seemed to be on about the only lake in Europe which didn’t freeze,” said Chamberlain. “There’s more on the TV about both the Paralympics and the Olympics but part of the challenge (of being a GB rower) is being able to switch off from it and just focus on the training.”

The buzz is evident in the squad though and reigning World and Paralympic Champion Tom Aggar said: “I can’t wait for the opportunity to compete in front of a home crowd, racing on home water. It will be very special.”

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