Flagship four win as British rowers earn 12 medals from 12 finals at opening World Cup in Belgrade
Sunday, 06 May 2012
May 6 - The flagship four due to represent Britain at London 2012 won its first international outing today as Peter Reed, Tom James and Andy Triggs Hodge, Olympic gold medallists four years ago, combined with world champion Alex Gregory to supply one of four British golds on the final day of the rowing World Cup in Belgrade.
All 12 Great Britain crews that started in today's finals made the podium as Britain added six silver and two bronze medals to their golds, a performance which won them overall victory at the first of three World Cups ahead of the Olympics as they finished with 79 points to Germany's 47.
Britain's other golds were provided by world champions Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins in the double scull, who defeated a powerful German crew, Olympic champions Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter (pictured), who held off a strong Greek challenge in the lightweight double scull, and the world silver medallist women's pair of Heather Stanning and Helen Glover.
"It's been a very good day", said GB Rowing Team Performance Director David Tanner.
"To win 12 medals from 12 starts is as good if not better than I would have hoped before coming here.
"It was a good field here but we know there are more teams to come in for the next World Cups so we will not be sitting back on our laurels from here."
Britain's eight, missing stroke Constantine Louloudis because of a back injury, were unable to overcome the challenge of the three-times world champion German crew.
Among the more delighted silver medallists were Bill Lucas and Sam Townsend in the double scull, who finished just over a second behind Eric Knittel and Stephan Krueger of Germany, and youngsters George Nash and William Satch, who, on their World Cup debut, were within a second of the German pair of Anton Braun and Felix Drahotta.
Tanner added: "Whilst proud of the whole team I guess I'm particularly excited by the performances of our two new male crews – the men's pair and double scull who both won silvers – we knew they were talented but you don't know how they are going to perform in this kind of hot-house.
"There were also some very disappointed silver medallists, like the men's eight who lost out to World Champions, Germany.
"But that shows how ambitious they are".
The four dominated their final from the halfway point, but there was no sense of overconfidence.
"We've shown glimpses of real speed in training recently but we haven't quite recreated it", said Hodge.
"We have our feet on the ground and some of the big nations are still to join the party."
Grainger (pictured above, right with Watkins) said: "I really enjoyed that race.
"It's been such a long time since we raced competitively.
"We wanted a quality race here and the Germans gave us that. But if anyone thinks they have seen our full-on finish they haven't.
"We will wait to unleash that in the Olympic final, I expect."
Further silvers were won by the lightweight women's double of Sophie Hosking and Kat Copeland, Alan Campbell in the men's single, and the lightweight men's four of Chris Bartley, Rob Williams and the Chambers brothers Richard and Peter.
Gold in the single scull went to the Olympic champion Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic - but not before Campbell had given him a tough test.
Campbell had a whisper of a lead as the crews came into the final 500m alongside the grandstands.
Roared on by the travelling British fans Campbell held his ground only to cede in the final 20 strokes as Synek showed his staying power to surge ahead.
"That's why I love this event," said Campbell.
"It's not processional, it's exciting and entertaining.
"It is a tight event and there is so much happening."
May 2012: Smooth start for Britain's new four at rowing World Cup in Belgrade
May 2012: Greg Searle - It's now time to focus on some fierce racing
April 2012: Reed and Triggs Hodge move to four for World Cup as Searle closes on Olympic return
March 2012: Reed, Triggs Hodge and Grainger deliver once again at GB Rowing trials
March 2012: Mike Rowbottom - In the words of Grobler "there are no names under seats", so Britain's rowers have it all to play for