British rowers dominate Thomas Keller medal shortlist

Tom Aggar, Dame Katherine Grainger, Andrew T Hodge and Greg Searle are named on the six-person shortlist for the prestigious Thomas Keller Medal

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Tom Aggar, Dame Katherine Grainger and Andrew T Hodge

Four British rowers have been named on the six-person shortlist for the prestigious Thomas Keller Medal, announced by World Rowing on Monday.

Three recently retired medallists from Rio 2016 – Dame Katherine Grainger, Andrew T Hodge and Tom Aggar – make the list, along with Olympic champion from 1992 Greg Searle.

Aggar, Paralympic champion in 2008 and a bronze medallist in Rio, becomes the first Para-rower to make the final shortlist. A four-year domination of the sport saw him take gold in Beijing but he missed out on a medal in his home Games in 2012. The 32-year-old bounced back to win bronze in a strong field at Rio 2016 before retiring in January 2017.

Grainger secured her fifth medal in her fifth Olympic Games in August 2016, winning silver alongside Vicky Thornley in the women’s double sculls. The Scot’s longevity at the highest level of the sport is recognised in the nomination, as well as her mastery of the different rowing disciplines.

Grainger is among the few rowers in history who have won an Olympic or World Championship medal in all of the current women’s Olympic-class boats. She has also excelled off the water, completing her PhD in law alongside her training for London 2012. She received a damehood in the 2017 New Year’s Honours for her services to sport and charity.

Hodge bowed out of the sport in February as one of the most decorated rowers in Olympic history. With three gold medals in consecutive Games – all won alongside Pete Reed – Hodge played a key role in continuing Great Britain’s domination of the men’s coxless four, before becoming a linchpin in the men’s eight victory at Rio 2016. His success was not without its struggles, though, with Hodge battling back from glandular fever in 2015 to gain selection for the following year’s Olympics.

Searle retired – for the second time – after winning bronze in the men’s eight at London 2012. It was the third Olympic medal for the then 40-year-old, who returned to rowing two years previously after a nine-year break. Searle won Olympic gold in 1992 alongside his brother Jonny in the coxed pair, before taking bronze in the four at Atlanta 1996.

Two members of the formidable USA women’s eight round out the list, with triple Olympic gold medallist Eleanor Logan and two-time champion Caryn Davies joining the four Brits on the final shortlist.

British rowers have been awarded the Thomas Keller Medal on two occasions since its inception in 1990, with Sir Steve Redgrave winning in 2001 and Sir Matthew Pinsent taking the award four years later in 2005.

The 2017 winner will be announced on 29 June, with the Thomas Keller Medal being presented during World Cup III in Lucerne on 8 July.

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