May 20 - Greg Searle (pictured) has rolled back the years to complete the first step of a remarkable Olympic comeback by winning a place in the British rowing squad.

Searle, who won gold with brother Jonny and cox Garry Herbert at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and a bronze in Atlanta four years later, had been in retirement for a decade.

But the 38-year-old could not shake the desire to compete in a home Olympics and he returned to training last year, initially on his own, in a bid to force his way back into national colours.

British head coach Jurgen Grobbler is not a man for sentiment but Searle proved his worth by coming through three rounds of national trials.

Searle will race in the men's eight at the first World Cup regatta in Bled, Slovenia, later this month - where he will be the oldest rower in the boat by 12 years.

"I was in the gym this morning in an old vest which dates back to the late 1980s," laughed Searle.

"The new GB kit feels fantastic.

"To get in the team was tough.

"It is a privilege to be part of the team again after a decade away from here.

"Now my goals have moved up for the year.

"I started off saying I wanted to get into the team for 2010.

"Now I see the standard of the boat and the quality of the people in it, I think we should be shooting to be a medal boat this year - to win a medal at every World Cup and then the World Championships.

"We will have to see what the real standard of the competition is but hopefully with the strength of the eight that last year finished fifth we should be getting medals for sure."

Searle has spent the last decade working for a sports consultancy but kept himself fit by competing in triathlons and marathons and with a stint as grinder in the 2002 Americas Cup series.

The initial inspiration for his return came back in 2004, when Searle realised that, if they were awarded them, a London Olympics would coincide with the 20th anniversary of his Barcelona triumph.

It was after commentating on last summer's World Championships that Searle made the decision to target a comeback.

"Training on my own was tough, especially when the clocks changed and it became dark and cold," said Searle, who will be 40 at London 2012.

"I started off in October doing scores on the machine that got me looked at.

"I have now closed the gap and I am competitive with everyone here so I am well in the mix.

"I can still push on and get to close to being as fast as I was, which would put me at the top end of the group.

"I think by November for the World Championships I should be just a few seconds - one or two per cent - off my best.

"Jurgen has been there alongside me throughout.

"He has been really satisfied to see the progress I have made and that takes the form of a firm handshake and look in the eye."

Searle, who had never been to the GB rowing base at Caversham before consulting Grobbler about his comeback, has been richly impressed by the modern set-up.

"In the old days I would have been training on a river, avoiding pleasure boats and I would have been going to a cafe to get some food when I had time," he said.

"I would have been getting coached by one person if I was lucky.

"We now have a 2,000 metres course to ourselves, a boat-house full of real quality equipment, coaches, physiologists, physios and a place to get nutritious food as soon as we have finished training.

"The scores that everyone in the group can pull on a rowing machine are a big step on from when I was here before.

"We now have fantastic depth in the team.

"A few years ago there would have maybe been Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent, James Cracknell and me.

"Now there are 10 or 15 capable of doing those scores rather than having a few stars

"We bat a long way down the order and a lot of our boats will be very competitive."

As if to emphasise that strength in depth, Searle was to be joined in the men's eight by another Olympic champion in Tom James but his return has been delayed until the Munich regatta by injury.

Elsewhere in the squad, Andy Triggs-Hodge and Pete Reed will continue in the men's pair and the world champion men's four crew has been left unchanged.

In the women's squad, Katherine Grainger has ended her single scull experiment and joined forces with Anna Watkins in the double.

Mark Hunter will miss the Bled regatta through injury but he is expected to reform his Beijing gold medal-winning partnership with Zac Purchase in the lightweight men's double later in the season.

Related stories
April 2010:
 Redgrave puts Searle up on a level with himself and Pinsent
March 2010: Mike Rowbottom - Brabants, Searle and Queally proving John Lennon wrong
February 2010: Searle joins British squad in Portugal as comeback gathers momentum