Rowing: Olympic hopefuls prepare in Munich

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The Independent Online

This weekend’s world cup regatta in Munich is the first indicator of who will sit in the seats of the 11 boats that Britain qualified for the Olympics at last year’s world championships.

A winter of prolonged illness and bad weather has extended the selection process for the leading men’s boats, the four and the eight.

The consequence of the four’s disappointing fourth place last year is that Tom James replaced Alex Partridge to join Andy Hodge, Peter Reed and Steve Williams three weeks ago, although he has been replaced by Tom Lucy in Munich because of a minor injury.

The reluctance of Matt Langridge to row a pair with Colin Smith, as they did last year, has resulted in prolonged trials among 14 men for the eight. Langridge, Smith and Partridge are in it in Munich, with five others and cox Acer Nethercott who won bronze in the 2007 world championships. The four and the eight are known to have returned fast times in training.

The sculler Alan Campbell and the double scullers Steve Rowbotham and Matt Wells are secure in their nominations, and the two crews who won gold last year are unchanged — the quad of Annie Vernon, Debbie Flood, Fran Houghton and Katherine Grainger and the lightweight four of Richard Chambers, James Lindsay-Fynn, Paul Mattick and James Clarke.

Elise Laverick and Sarah Winckless, the 2004 Olympic bronze medallists in double sculls, are back together after Winckless’s year off after an operation. Tina Stiller and Charles Cousins from last year’s under-23 team are entered in the single sculls.

How much of a shake-up after this weekend will be determined by the results from a regatta with a very large entry which includes elements of the Chinese, US and Australian teams as well as most of the front runners from Europe.