Veteran Searle makes GB comeback

International Rowing 2010World Cup – Bled 28-30 May, Watch live on red button/online (UK only), highlights on BBC Two, 31 May, 1300 BSTWorld Cup – Munich 18-20 June, World Cup – Lucerne 9-11 July, World Championships – New Zealand 31 Oct-7 Nov

Greg Searle

Greg Searle will return to the British squad after a 10-year break later this month, aiming to take part in the 2012 Olympics, when he will be 40-years-old.

Searle won gold in Barcelona in 1992 with brother Jonny and cox Garry Herbert, and bronze in a four in 1996.

He will compete in the GB eight at the opening World Cup event in Bled, Slovenia at the end of May.

Scot Katherine Grainger will race in two boats, while men’s pair Andy Hodge and Pete Reed have been kept together.

Zac Purchase returns from a year out through illness but Mark Hunter, his partner in the lightweight double scull that won Olympic gold in Beijing, is ruled out through injury.

The rowers are raring to go after a long winter of training

"Getting into a racing boat for Bled is a big stepping stone on the way to 2012," Searle told BBC Sport.

"I have proved I can train, now I get the opportunity to prove I can race.

"It’s been such a journey of discovery the whole way, and for much of the way I have not known whether I can do it. Now I’ve got the belief and confidence.

"I can’t wait to get out to Bled and see where I stand and where the crew stand against the rest of the world."

Searle has been added to a young men’s eight, which came fourth at last year’s World Championships in Poland.

He retired after the 2000 Olympics, when he came agonisingly short of a medal in a pair with Ed Coode, and went on to take part in sailing’s America’s Cup as a grinder and compete in the BBC’s Superstars series.

He went to Poland, in August 2009, as a race commentator but decided soon afterwards to make a competitive return.

Grainger, who is bidding to follow her three successive Olympic silver medals with gold in 2012, won world silver in a single scull last year but will now partner Anna Watkins in a double and also compete in a quad – the boat she raced to an agonising second place in Beijing.

Hodge and Reed were second behind New Zealand last season but have proved in trials over the winter that they are significantly faster than other members of the GB squad.

Purchase will race in the lightweight single in Slovenia but could be rejoined by Hunter – who took 2009 off to coach at university in California – for the second of three World Cup regattas, in Munich in June.

Welshman Tom James is another Olympic champion whose return from a year off is likely to be delayed by a further month because of injury.

Olympic silver medallist Debbie Flood returns from a year off working in the prison service, and will race in the single scull in Bled.

The men’s four of Alex Partridge, Richard Egington, Alex Gregory and Matt Langridge – Great Britain’s only reigning world champions – have retained the same line-up from last season.

But the 2008 Olympic bronze medal double scull of Matt Wells and Steve Rowbotham looks likely to be broken up after a disappointing 2009, when they missed the world final.

Marcus Bateman joins Wells in the double, with Rowbotham missing the season-opener through injury.

"We have an interesting season ahead with early-season World Cups but a World Championships in early November in New Zealand," said GB Rowing performance director David Tanner.

"The rowers are raring to go after a long winter of training. They will also get the chance in Bled to familiarise themselves with the 2011 World Championships venue, where the 2012 Olympic qualifying process will begin."

Bled will also offer the only World Cup racing this year for the Paralympic boat classes, including world record-holder Tom Aggar.

Great Britain squad for opening World Cup regatta:

Openweight women:

Pairs (three boats): Olivia Whitlam, Louisa Reeve; Jessica Eddie, Alison Knowles; Helen Glover, Heather Stanning

Eight: Jo Cook, Louisa Reeve, Natasha Page, Victoria Thornley, Jessica Eddie, Lindsey Maguire, Olivia Whitlam, Alison Knowles, Caroline O’Connor (cox)

Single scull (two boats): Melanie Wilson, Debbie Flood

Double scull (two boats): Katherine Grainger, Anna Watkins; Beth Rodford, Annabel Vernon

Quadruple scull: Annabel Vernon, Beth Rodford, Anna Watkins, Katherine Grainger

Openweight men:

Pair (two boats): Peter Reed, Andrew Triggs Hodge; Cameron Nichol, Tom Burton

Four: Alex Partridge, Richard Egington, Alex Gregory, Matt Langridge

Eight: Tom Wilkinson, James Clarke, James Orme, James Foad, Mohamed Sbihi, Greg Searle, Nathaniel Reilly-O’Donnell, Daniel Ritchie, Phelan Hill (cox)

Single scull (two boats): Alan Campbell; Brendan Crean

Double scull (two boats): Matthew Wells, Marcus Bateman; Bill Lucas, Sam Townsend

Lightweight women:

Double scull (two boats): Hester Goodsell, Sophie Hosking; Stephanie Cullen, Andrea Dennis

Lightweight men:

Pair: Chris Boddy, Adam Freeman-Pask

Four: Richard Chambers, Paul Mattick, Rob Williams, Chris Bartley

Single scull: Zac Purchase

Double scull: Ben Rowe, Peter Chambers


Mixed coxed four: Kelsie Gibson, James Roe, Ryan Chamberlain, Naomi Riches, Rhiannon Jones (cox)

Arms-shoulders single (two boats): Tom Aggar, Andy Houghton

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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