Competition for Rio Paralympic Games seats begins
on 11-11-2015 12:11
If predicted strong winds abate in time, the nation’s top para-rowers will be going flat out this weekend with Rio in mind.
Reigning Paralympic Champion Pamela Relph and 2008 Champion Tom Aggar will line up at the national training centre near Reading alongside would-be Parlaympians to take on a 2km time-trial designed to test their fitness and endurance in front of the coaches and selectors.
This is the first step in a winter of testing aimed at selecting the Rio 2016 team with competition for seats in the boats hotter than ever before.
Grace Clough, Pamela Relph, Dan Brown and James Fox were all in the World Champion coxed four, coxed by Oliver James, in Aiguebelette in September. They will want to prove their continued mettle on Saturday against those knocking on the door including Rose Linden and Sam Murray - both visually-impaired athletes who came close earlier this year - and amputee rower Jordan Beecher.
GB qualified four boats for Rio at the Worlds - the mixed coxed four, the trunk-arms double scull, and both of the arms-shoulders single sculls. All four crews finished on the podium at an event which saw the four retain their World title in a searingly close encounter with the USA.
Laurence Whiteley and Lauren Rowles raced the double in France. Whiteley had waited and trained alone for two years for a suitably-classified female to emerge in this category. 17 year-old Rowles fitted the bill having transferred from wheelchair track racing and the duo took a debut silver.
Scott Meenagh, an injured ex-serviceman, will be amongst those seeking to challenge for a place in this boat over the winter and early racing season.
The group racing this weekend under lead coach Tom Dyson’s watchful eye will include a new tranche of development rowers like Jack Faull, 18 year-old Scott Jones, ex-serviceman James Rose and Liam Morris.
“We have a competitive group who are pushing each other on in training and this weekend will be a tough test of their endurance." Tom Dyson
“We have a competitive group who are pushing each other on in training and this weekend will be a tough test of their endurance as well as their ability to handle pressure”, said Dyson.