Winning start to big season for GB rowers

There was more gold for GB Rowing Team members as the British Rowing Senior Championships concluded at the Holme Pierrepont National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham.

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There was more gold for GB Rowing Team members as the British Rowing Senior Championships concluded at the Holme Pierrepont National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham.

Jonny Walton, John Collins and Peter Lambert were joined by last-minute replacement Nick Middleton in the victorious Leander Club A men’s quad.

Leander’s women also dominated their competition, with gold going to Vicky Thornley, Polly Swann, Holly Nixon and Jess Leyden.

Melanie Wilson stroked an Imperial College women’s eight featuring fellow GB rower Donna Etiebet to a good win in their final.

And the men’s eight title was won in style by an Oxford Brookes University A crew including World Championships medallists Scott Durant, Matt Tarrant and Joel Cassells.

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RACE REPORTS

In the men’s quad, the experienced Leander A crew narrowly set the fastest time in the morning’s time trial before going on to lead from the front in both their semi-final and final.

Lambert, a World medallist with the GB quad in 2013 and 2014, said: “We moved on through each round, which was pleasing.

“These were our first races of the season, our first 2ks of the season, so to start the year with a win is always positive.”

Silver went to a Leander Club D crew stroked by GB U23 international Andy Joel, while a composite crew featuring London 2012 Olympic bronze-medallist Alan Campbell, Zak Lee-Green, Harry Shimmin and Chris Lawrie just held off a Reading University quad including Sam Townsend to take third place.

The Leander women’s quad of Thornley, Swann, Nixon – a late replacement for Vicki Meyer-Laker – and Leyden proved to be the class act of their competition, although they were given a good challenge by a Reading University RC and Isle of Ely RC U23 composite in the final.

“We were definitely made to race, they pushed us the whole way,” said Thornley, who partnered Katherine Grainger in the GB women’s double during 2015.

“It’s been a really good day. It’s blown away the cobwebs and got the lungs going again.”

In the crew that won silver were World U23 women’s four bronze-medallists Sam Courty and Holly Hill, Alice Bowyer and Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne, who won gold in the women’s double on Saturday.

Bronze went to the Leander B quad of Margery Pepper, Katherine Douglas, Emily Carmichael and Francesca Rawlins, who held off a late challenge from a Tees RC crew of Olympic champion Kat Copeland, Beth Bryan, Jo Wratten and Tina Stiller.

Imperial College were front-runners throughout the women’s eight competition and underlined their quality by finishing four seconds clear in the final.

Wilson, one of two GB internationals in the boat, said: “It’s always good to go back and race for your club. They all row for the love of the sport, so it’s been great to soak up some of that atmosphere.”

Also in the winning eight were Etiebet, Joanna Thom, Sara Parfett, Michelle Vezie, Helen Wood, Rebecca Shorten and Georgia Francis, who won women’s double gold on Saturday. They were coxed by Jessica Saunders.

There was a good battle for the other medal places, with Cambridge University BC taking silver ahead of an Oxford Brookes University A crew including GB rower Olivia Carnegie-Brown.

The championships concluded with a powerful performance from the Oxford Brookes University men’s eight, who had been runners-up in both the time trial and semi-finals but won when it mattered most.

Crew member Durant, a men’s four bronze-medallist at last month’s World Championships, said: “We’re really pleased with that. I love going back to row with the students and it’s even better when you end up winning gold.

“Obviously we have a very big season coming up and it’s always good to start the year with a win.”

Also in the winning eight were Tarrant, Cassells, Petru Alin Zaharia, Henry Swarbrick, Morgan Bolding, Rory Gibbs and cox Harry Brightmore.

Oliver James, cox with the LTA mixed coxed four that has won gold at the last three World Championships, guided Leander Club A to the silver.

James Fox, who is also in the mixed coxed four, was one of three World Championship gold-medallists – along with Paul Bennett and Nathaniel Reilly-O’Donnell –in the University of London A crew that won bronze.

For full results from the British Rowing Senior Championships, go to http://www.britchamps.org/seniors

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