Over the past weekend the best athletes from Britain descended on Boston, Lincolnshire for the first GB Rowing trial of the 2015/16 season. With this being the final season of this Olympic cycle there are less than 10 months till racing kicks off in Rio. University of London Boat Club athletes were in attendance with some trying to cement their place in selectors minds for the Olympic team whilst others were taking their first steps on the path to selection for either the World U23 Championships or the FISU Regatta (World University Championships).
ULBC heavyweight men Ollie COOK, Nathaniel REILLY-O’DONNELL and Paul BENNETT were all racing in the openweight men’s pairs event with fellow GB Senior team members and finished 11th, 7th and 5th respectively. REILLY-O’DONNELL and BENNETT were both World Champions in 2014 and 2015. Both of them, along with Ollie COOK are pushing for selection for their first Olympic Games. Rich CLARKE (Brunel), World U23 Silver medallist in 2015 also raced in this event finishing 14th.
In the men’s singles we had current students Patrick BOOMER (King’s College London) and Patrick SULLIVAN (University College London) racing in the openweight U23 event, finishing 11th and 18th respectively. Elite Pairs winner at the recent Pairs Head of the River, James RICHARDS (King’s College London), switched one oar for two and finished a very impressive 6th in the lightweight U23 event.
ULBC heavyweight women Fran HOUGHTON, double Olympic silver medallist, raced in the women’s singles finishing 6th in the openweight event surrounded by fellow GB Senior team athletes. In this field we had current students Ailish SHEEHAN (Goldsmiths) and Claire GARNETT (University College London) who finished 16th and 29th in the FISU category. We also had current student and freshman Nuala GANNON (King’s College London) who finished 19th in the U23 category. Having raced at the Junior World Championships in 2014 and 2015 she is making the step up to U23 level. ULBC lightweight women Emily CRAIG, 2015 World Silver medallist, was last to go and finished in a strong 3rd place in the lightweight event. This event is one of the most competitive with only two spots at the Olympic Games.
With this first assessment now completed the athletes will go away and reflect on where improvements need to be made. “This is a great event to set a baseline for the season” says Chief Coach Phil Gray. “With the ergometer tests on the Saturday and the water assessments on the Sunday we showed some solid performances and the long winter months now provide a great opportunity for all the athletes to step on”. The next opportunity for our athletes to push their case for selection will be on December 19th for the Olympic candidates and February 13th for the U23 and FISU candidates. The next event for our athletes will be Wallingford Head on Sunday 29th November.