Brandenburg, Germany, 6-8 May 2016
Leander captain Alex Gregory has been announced in a new-look men’s four for next month’s European Championships, where half the GB team will be athletes from his own Club.
The announcement, made at the national training centre in Caversham on Wednesday, revealed the selectors’ choice for the early part of the international regatta season. Although some fine-tuning is likely over the next three months, the team will be largely unchanged for the Olympic Games.
Men’s chief coach Jürgen Grobler has once again set his sights on gold in the men’s four, where Gregory will be joined by Moe Sbihi, George Nash and Constantine Louloudis. All four men are current world champions in men’s eight, a boat which now sees the return of Tom Ransley and Matt Langridge into the line-up.
“Everything we do aims towards the Olympics and now finally we are starting to form the crews that will make up the Olympic team. It’s a privilege to race for our country and the feeling of pride and excitement never diminishes” said Gregory.
The new men’s pair is an all-Leander crew of Al Sinclair and Stewart Innes, who both won bronze at last year’s world championships as members of the men’s four.
Among the sculling squad Angus Groom steps up to take the injured Charles Cousins’ place in the quad, while John Collins and Jonny Walton in the double, coached by Mark Banks, remains unchanged from last season.
The lightweight double of Richard Chambers and Will Fletcher also stays the same as last year, Fletcher having won GB trials a couple of weeks ago. Meanwhile Jamie Kirkwood retains his place in the lightweight single, a non-Olympic boat class.
Change in the women’s squad has resulted in a shake-up in the eight, which now features Karen Bennett for the first time, and a return for Frances Houghton, who has moved back to sweep from sculling and is now looking forward to her fifth successive Olympics.
Vicky Thornley and Katherine Grainger will once again contest the double scull, after an intensive seat racing matrix revealed them to be once again the fastest combination.
Three Leander athletes have been announced in the new women’s quad, the only GB boat which has yet to qualify for Rio. Jess Leyden, Holly Nixon and Ro Bradbury, with Tina Stiller of Tees RC, will race the first World Cup in Varese to prepare themselves for qualification next month in Lucerne.