This is the biggest event of the year for us, says Sbihi

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After European Championships and multiple world cup successes, the GB Rowing Team’s women’s pair and men’s eight headline the 2015 World Championships squad.

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, the Olympic, World and European Champions, finished off their world cup season with a second gold in Lucerne.

Stanning said: “The project with Helen and Robin [Williams – the coach] continues to excite me as we are still findings areas of our rowing to improve and ultimately getting faster”.

Glover echoed this sentiment: “We have shown what we are capable of during the World Cup series and European Championships and now hope to build on that at the Worlds.

The competition this season has been strong and it’s exciting to feel that Heather and I are still improving and finding more speed”.

Matt Gotrel, Will Satch, Pete Reed, Paul Bennett, Mohamed Sbihi, Alex Gregory, George Nash, Constantine Louloudis and cox Phelan Hill also won in Lucerne – a second successive gold for the GB eight after a win in Varese.

The close rivalry between this crew and Germany, the Olympic Champions, has been an on-going attraction this year. After the narrow win in the season’s final world cup in Lucerne Satch said: “We are pretty pumped after that. It’s 15 years since a British eight last won in Lucerne, so it’s a bit of an historic moment.”

Sbihi spoke about the importance of the Worlds: “I am looking forward to this year’s World Championships as I feel we have had a very exciting season so far and this is the biggest event of the year for us.

“This year’s Worlds is incredibly important for qualification and we have to get it right in order to be a big team next year at Rio. We all train together and would hate for our friends and colleagues not to be there. Qualification is the first goal and winning is next”.

European Champions Matt Langridge and James Foad, who won a barnstorming silver in Lucerne, will race the men’s pair. They were silver medallists in 2014 and are seeking to close the gap on New Zealand’s Hamish Bond and Eric Murray one of the world’s stand-out crews in the past five years.

Foad said: “I am aware Rio is just around the corner, but I’m not really thinking about it too much, we have a job to finish off this year and we’re focusing hard on how we can try and finish 2015 in style”.

Alan Sinclair, Stewart Innes, Tom Ransley and Scott Durant came through two weeks of testing and trialling after the main squad announcement in July to be named in the men’s four.

Ransley, speaking from the team’s training camp in Austria a few weeks ago said: “It’s going well. We’ve put in lots of mileage and there has been fatigue but we have carried the rhythm through the sessions.

“The Worlds are what we have built towards for the whole season. There’s a good team feel about it as it’s where we will qualify the boats for the Olympics. So that’s a team goal we are working towards, which feels good”.

Ransley is a twice World Champion and an Olympic bronze medallist in the eight whilst relative GB newcomer Stewart Innes was in the GB eight that won World Cup gold in Varese earlier this year. Sinclair and Durant won World silver in the coxed pair with cox Henry Fieldman just under a year ago.

Nathaniel Reilly O’Donnell was unable to take part in the testing due to illness and will race the men’s coxed pair with his fellow 2014 World eights gold winner Mat Tarrant and cox Fieldman. He joined the men’s squad at their Austrian training camp late.

Fieldman said: “It’s an honour to be selected to represent the country again and it’s a very exciting boat to be part of, looking at the pedigree of the two guys that I have sat behind me”.

Alan Campbell secured his place back as GB’s open single sculler on the back of continually improving performances this season which culminated in a bronze medal at the last world cup. This event has attracted 41 entries, the biggest field in the Championships.

The women’s eight, twice bronze medallists this season, have underlined their racing pedigree. Katie Greves, Louisa Reeve, Jess Eddie, Donna Etiebet, Vicky Meyer-Laker, Olivia Carnegie-Brown, Rosamund Bradbury, Zoe Lee and cox Zoe de Toledo have consistently challenged the world’s top boats this year so far.

After the Lucerne world cup Carnegie-Brown said: “We wanted this week to be about putting things into practice. I think we did that when we needed to and now we can go away and build on that through the training camps”.

The GB squads have had five weeks of training at various locations in Europe since Lucerne. GB will also race a women’s four in France. Rebecca Chin, Karen Bennett, Lucinda Gooderham and Holly Norton received a late call-up having showed well during the training camps.

Aiguebelette also sees the return of the 2014 World silver winning GB men’s quadruple scull who sat out Lucerne because of illness and injury in the crew. The good news is that Charles Cousins’ broken hand is now fixed and the crew has been back to full training with Graeme Thomas, Sam Townsend, Charles Cousins and Peter Lambert.

This quartet won World silver in Amsterdam last August – missing out on gold by mere hundredths of a second. They also won GB ’s first World Championships medal of all-time in this boat category when they took bronze the previous year in Korea.

Townsend said: “We are all very pleased to be selected to press on and make sure we qualify the quad and push for top medals. It has been a slightly unusual season for us as a crew, having not raced in the complete line up all year, but we have confidence in our history and have kept the project progressing all year with the help of all of the squad. We can’t wait to get racing again at the Worlds.”

Thomas added: “To qualify for the Olympics you have to be in the top seven so I think the other nations are really going to push it and that will make the race even tougher than normal”.

GB’s two lightweight double scull crews are unchanged from Lucerne. Will Fletcher and Richard Chambers, a London 2012 silver medallist in the light four, will race the men’s event after two podium finishes to date.

Chambers said: “This season so far has been an exciting one for us. We are progressing well.”

Olympic Champion Kat Copeland will race with Charlotte Taylor in the women’s event. Theirs has been a somewhat rollercoaster season so far, going from the heights of world cup gold and a world best time in Varese to just missing out on the podium in Lucerne. European Champion, Imogen Walsh, will race the lightweight single after winning silver in Lucerne.

Copeland said: “Any World Championships is going to be important but there’s obviously a bit more riding on this one with it being just a year out from the Olympics.

“We’ve had some really good moments this season, with Varese being the highlight, and the potential is definitely there”.

2012 Olympic Champion Katherine Grainger, also three times an Olympic silver medallist from 2000-2008, continues her comeback season after two years out of the sport post-London 2012 with a 12th World Championships appearance since 1997. Her career medal tally at the Championships is already six golds, a silver and a bronze and she has never been outside the top seven having raced in five different boat categories.

This time she races in the open double scull with Vicky Thornley who won the GB Rowing Team trials this season. Thornley was GB’s single sculler in 2013 at the World Championships and, at London 2012, was part of the GB women’s eight who reached the Olympic final.

John Collins and Jonny Walton, finalists in Lucerne, are contesting the equivalent men’s event. The duo made their international senior debut together only last season.

The open women’s quadruple scull consists of Melanie Wilson, KrisTina Stiller, Frances Houghton – twice an Olympic silver medallist and a former World Champion in this boat – and Jessica Leyden who have progressed well in training since Lucerne.

There will also be a GB lightweight women’s quadruple scull crew in action. Emily Craig, Ruth Walczak, Brianna Stubbs and Ellie Piggott will race this boat which was selected earlier this month.

Jono Clegg will race in the lightweight men’s four following his strong performance in the pair in Lucerne and his role as sub in the double scull the following day with Richard Chambers. He joins Peter Chambers, Mark Aldred and Chris Bartley. Bartley and Chambers won Olympic silver in 2012 in this line-up.

Joel Cassells, European Champion in the lightweight men’s pair in May, takes his place in the pair with Sam Scrimgeour. Jamie Kirkwood, winner of the GB Rowing Team Senior Trials in the lightweight single in April, is selected in this boat class.

GB also named a lightweight men’s quad in early August of Steve Parsonage, Jamie Copus, Sam Mottram and Zak Lee-Green.

Lee-Green and Mottram got a senior world cup run-out earlier this season in the lightweight double. Parsonage, Copus and Mottram were all part of the GB lightweight quad that raced to a silver medal at last week’s World U23 Championships.

Parsonage is in his first year as an U23 and a lightweight having won a silver medal in the junior men’s quadruple scull at the 2014 World Junior Championships.

Copus took silver in the lightweight men’s four at the U23 Championships last year and Lee-Green was a B finalist in his inaugural senior World Championships in Amsterdam last autumn.

In the Para-Rowing classes, Grace Clough, Dan Brown, Pamela Relph, James Fox and cox Oliver James are named unchanged in the mixed para-rowing coxed four. GB are reigning World Champions in this event and this crew set a World Best Time and won gold at the Varese World Cup.

Relph said: “This season has been good and I am absolutely delighted to have broken the world best time at the world cup in Varese. Having been in the boat since I took up rowing in 2011, I feel a lot of pressure to keep the unbeaten streak going and the intensity at training reflects that. We are all training harder than we ever have and can’t wait to get to the World Championships and see how we fare against crews we haven’t seen so far this season. ”

They are joined by 2008 Paralympic Champion and 2014 World Silver medallist Tom Aggar, winner of bronze in Varese, in the arms-shoulders single scull for men. Rachel Morris, will race the equivalent women’s boat. She returned to action in Varese, after shoulder surgery earlier this year.

Laurence Whiteley has found his lonely training vigil of the part past two years rewarded with selection into the mixed trunk-arms double scull with Lauren Rowles. Whiteley has won international medals in a single but needed to find a female partner in order to be able to try to qualify, via these World Championships, for the Paralympic Games next summer in Rio.

Rowles has come into the squad in the past six months after a chance meeting with GB Rowing Team staff at Stoke Mandeville sports centre after which she requested a try-out. Rowles was previously a wheelchair track racer, having competed at the Commonwealth Games for England in the T53/54 1500m.

For GB Rowing Team Media enquires during the World Championships please contact: Caroline Searle in the GB Rowing Team press office at [email protected] or +44 7831 755351.

For news, information and biographies please visit: www.gbrowingteam.org.uk

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