GB Training Lake, Caversham
11-12 April 2016
Leander athletes were on top of their game this week at Caversham, where the national training centre hosted the GB trials for this year’s Senior Non-Olympic and U23 world championships.
The final of the men’s single sculls saw Leander’s Tom Barras, a member of last season’s U23 quad, get off to an early lead, which he maintained to claim victory by just over a length.
“It was so competitive over the two days, so I just tried to smash it in the first ‘k’ in the final and get out of the battle,” said Barras, who is once again eligible for the U23s this season.
“I feel like we have a really strong sculling squad and I hope we can show that by pulling it out of the bag at the U23s. The competition for places is strong but everyone is wishing each other well because the main aim is to go as fast as possible in the crew boats this summer.”
Experience came to the fore in the women’s pairs where Leander’s Fi Gammond and Katherine Douglas produced a well-judged race to beat Caragh McMurtry of Southapton Coalporters and Agecroft’s Becca Chin, who had led for the first 750m.
“We improved a lot from the time trial yesterday, where we came third,” said Gammond. “Each race was just a step up and improvement, which is what you want to see.”
Douglas added: “This is my first race since December, so yesterday was blowing the cobwebs out and today was pushing on. I’m lucky enough to have such a great team-mate in Fiona.”
Sam Tuck of Molesey and Leander’s Jonathan Jackson had won Tuesday’s semi-finals so it was no surprise to see them set the pace in the final. Tuck held the advantage for the first kilometre but Jackson began to apply the pressure with 750m to go and eventually surged clear to win by a length.
“I knew my main opposition was Sam and I was a bit worried around halfway that I had let him get too much of a lead,” said Jackson. “Luckily I was able to get through somehow.”
Jackson was part of the lightweight four that won bronze at last year’s World U23s along with Ben Reeves (Oxford Brookes) and Alastair Douglass (Molesey), who finished fourth and sixth respectively.
“It was good to see so many U23s in the final, there are a lot of us coming through and looking to challenge the seniors in the coming years,” Jackson added.
The men’s pair competition saw Leander’s Cameron Buchan and Matt Rossiter build on Monday’s time-trial success by winning both their semi-final and the final itself.
“We’re really pleased with what we’ve done this week,” said Rossiter, a former world junior champion in men’s fours. “We were both quite disappointed with how we did at the Olympic Trials last month, so it’s nice to come back and come out on top” he added.
Buchan added: “We’ve struggled with our starts but we got out cleaner than we are used to in the final and knew in the first few strokes that it was going to be a good race.”