14-15 April 2018
GB Rowing Lake, Caversham
Club captain Vicky Thornley led the Leander charge for success last weekend at GB trials, where the best-ever performances from their development academy, as well as the established favourites, placed the club’s athletes in a robust position for the season ahead.
Leander athletes took a clean sweep across the openweight events, with Vicky Thornley and Tom Barras the clear winners in the women’s and men’s single sculls.
European champion Thornley, who took silver at last year’s world championships in Florida, was untroubled in Sunday’s final, where she sculled the fastest splits from start to finish and crossed the line ten seconds ahead of second-placed Lucy Glover of Edinburgh University.
“I know that I was expected to win, and that means approaching the race differently” she explained afterwards.
“I wanted to see how well I could do, examine the technical elements, execute the race and get it right” she added.
In the men’s event Tom Barras, who was the surprise winner of bronze in Florida last September, came through the field at 1000m after a start led by Agecroft’s Graeme Thomas and Leander’s Harry Leask. Barras had a three second margin over the field at the finish while a punishing burst from Leask saw him overhaul Thomas for second by just 0.03 sec.
For Leask, who was twice a member of the GB Under-23 quad, the race brought an invitation to further assessments with Leander’s George Rossiter and Harry Glenister, who were fifth in the men’s pairs final.
The pairs race was won by Leander’s Al Sinclair, an Olympic finalist, who partnered Mat Tarrant of Oxford Brookes University, the GB spare athlete in Rio.
But there was disappointment for Olympic champion Will Satch, who still has to regain maximum race fitness following his recent heart surgery. Partnering Molesey’s Moe Sbihi, the Rio gold medal winner in men’s fours, Satch had to pull out of his semifinal with 200m to go.
In the women’s pairs Leander’s Karen Bennett, a member of the silver medal eight in Rio, retained her title, partnering Rebecca Shorten of Imperial College. Their win saw them a second clear of the Leander Molesey combination of Anastasia Chitty and Rebecca Girling with Leander’s Katherine Douglas and Fiona Gammond two seconds back in third.
And there was more good news for two more Leander athletes Emily Ford and Emily Ashford whose finishing time earned them the opportunity for further assessments with the GB team.
“We had 59 athletes invited to trials, 23 reached the finals and, apart from the wins, a number of our development guys caught the selectors’ eye – you can’t ask for more than that” said chief coach Mark Banks