Strong Varese performances by GB Rowing Team para-squad

The GB Rowing Team sent a squad of seven para-rowers to Italy over the weekend to compete across three events at the Varese International Para-Rowing Regatta.

In the LTA (legs, trunk and arms) mixed coxed four, GB took four members of the squad which won a gold medal at the World Championships last year in Korea.

World Champions Pam Relph, James Fox, Oliver Hester and cox Oliver James were joined by newcomer Grace Clough. Clough has only been rowing since October of last year, and this was her first regatta.

With the addition of Clough to the crew, GB raced to a strong victory, finishing over three seconds ahead of the home nation in Saturday’s final. Following a victory in the heat to decide which lane they would be in for Sunday’s final, the crew unfortunately had to withdraw due to injury.

Laurence Whiteley of Tees RC produced a stunning performance to win gold medals on Saturday and Sunday. It has been a frustrating time of late for Whiteley, as the GB Rowing Team are searching for a partner of the same classification to row with him in the TA mixed double scull without success so far.

Whiteley however, put this behind him in Italy and produced the fastest time seen internationally in the TAM1x final on Saturday, winning by over eight seconds. He then took another comfortable victory in Sunday’s final, and showed that whilst he is still in search of a partner, his own form is not a problem.

Four-times World Champion Tom Aggar, of Royal Docks Rowing Club, won silver medals on both days of the regatta in the AS (arms and shoulder) men’s single scull. Aggar showed good form for this point in the season in his quest to get back on the podium at the World Championships in Amsterdam later this year but on both days finished behind the reigning World Champion, Erik Horrie of Australia.

Following the regatta, Chief Coach for the Paralympic Programme Tom Dyson, said: “There were some strong performances across the team in Varese and it shows we are in a good position at the start of the 2014 racing season. In particular it is good to see Grace Clough with her first win coming less than 9 months after first picking up an oar.

“This reinforces our ability to fast track people to the right level as we continue our search for a suitable partner for Laurence Whiteley in the TA2x after his dominant performance here. The squad is now back into full training here in Varese as we work to improve on these results for the World Cup and further down the line in Amsterdam”.