Rowing : Oxford president has throne but no seat

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The Independent Online
Ed Bellamy, the Oxford Boat Club president, made boat race history when he left himself out of the crew to take on Cambridge, which he announced yesterday. On 29 March, he will instead row for the Dark Blue reserves.

Bellamy, a blue in 1996, was elected president by the crew last May and has rowed every mile that Oxford crews have travelled since then, but he lost out at the last stage of crew selection.

Bellamy has entrusted the training and choice of his crew to Rene Mijnders, who coached the Dutch eight to Olympic gold in Atlanta. After making his challenge to the Cambridge president, Ethan Ayer, yesterday Bellamy said: "That is how it is now, and will stay, unless of course people stop performing well."

In the past, presidents have stepped down, but none of Bellamy's predecessors has rowed in the Isis-Goldie race for the reserves. He pointed out that Oxford have not beaten Goldie since 1989 and that confidence in this breeding ground is low. He said: "I would like to win it as an achievement for myself and because it will give inspiration to the up-and-coming oarsmen who we will depend on next year."

Mijnders said that selection was a continuous process. "It only became clear in the last week or so," he said. "We have done some lactate tests, which illustrate the fitness of the crews at this stage, and they are pretty close to the Dutch eight at this time last year."

Robin Williams, the coach in charge of the Cambridge squad, suggested there could yet be some fine-tuning of his crew. "We lost a week in January to ice and a couple of days last week to wind and our selection is not quite complete," he said.

The crew will be stroked on bow side by James Ball, last year's winner. Behind him on stroke side are four enormous men: David Cassidy and Damien Maltarp are the shortest at 6ft 4in. Alex Storey, a freshman at 24, is topped at 6ft 71/2in by the president, Ayer, who is a touch under 6ft 9in.

It appears that Cambridge will be a fraction taller and older, and Oxford will have a marginal weight advantage, but the crews are very close on all the normal criteria.

There is an encouraging number of British undergraduates who have got in ahead of older postgraduate students from abroad. Even in Bellamy's case, he is in contention with Charlie Humphreys. Both learned to row at Hampton School and were junior internationals. Bellamy arrived at Oxford via Durham University and a gold medal in the Under-23 World Championships while Humphreys came straight from school.



C P A Humphreys (Oriel), T J C Foster (Univ of London and St Cross), R Blanda (Brasenose College), L Grubor (Somerville), J B Roycroft (Keble), J Irving (Keble), A J R Lindsay (Brasenose), N J Robinson (Lincoln).

Cox: P A Greaney (St Edmund Hall).


E D Ayer (St Edmund's House), R J Pim (Downing), J Ball (Robinson College), R E Bradshaw Crombie (Peterhouse), A Story (St Edmund's), T J Wallace (Jesus), D P S Maltarp (Trinity College), A R Watson (Sidney Sussex), D J Cassidy (Trinity).

Cox: K Whyman (Peterhouse).