The women’s pair has been synonymous with British dominance in recent years with the partnership of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning at the forefront.  The duo formed in 2010 and by the end of that season they had won their first World Championship medal – silver – in Karapiro, New Zealand. In 2012, Glover and Stanning were unbeatable. Olympic gold confirmed their supremacy and made history as it was the first ever gold to be won by British female rowers. Following the London Olympic Games, Stanning returned to her commitments in the Royal Artillery Regiment in Afghanistan while Glover kept up her winning ways in international rowing with new partner Polly Swann.

With the return of Stanning in 2014, the reigning Olympic Champions formed a winning crew again. The duo remained unbeaten throughout the season, proving that Stanning had not lost her form as they left the rest of the field to race for silver and bronze. At the World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Glover and Stanning brought the women’s pair to a new competitive level. They set a new World Best Time in the final, beating the previous time set in 2002 by three seconds. The new standard is now 6:50.61.

But the British champions feel they can go even faster, as Glover said after her Amsterdam championship race: “It’s quite surreal because I feel we could have gone a little bit better.”

New Zealand, however, has been a constant force to reckon with for the British. Rebecca Scown is one of the top names in the women’s pair and she has not missed a World Championship or Olympic podium in this boat class since 2009. A world bronze medallist in 2009, she became a World Champion in 2010 and again in 2011. Scown went on to win bronze at the Olympic Games in 2012 and then also at the World Championships in 2013 and 2014.

New Zealand's Louise Trappitt (b) and Reb_ © Igor Meijer/FISA

Scown has been the consistent element while her partners have changed. Her 2014 partner, Louise Trappitt, made a smooth transition from sculling to sweep rowing after a post-Olympic break, and has proven to be on a par with her experienced crewmate. Having won the first World Cup in Sydney, Australia, and taking bronze at the final World Cup of the season in Lucerne, Switzerland, the Kiwis ranked just one point behind the British in the final 2014 World Rowing Cup standings.

But there may be more to challenge the British coming from the Kiwis. The number two crew of Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast finished a very close second to Stanning and Glover at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne before they went on to take gold at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships.

Coming out of the United States powerhouse of women sweep rowers, Megan Kalmoe and Kerry Simmonds formed a new combination in 2014 and used their former international experience to win silver medals at both the World Rowing Cup in Aiguebelette and the World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam. While Simmonds was a sweep rower previously (having been a member of the World Champion women’s eight in 2013), Kalmoe was a sculler and had been competing either in the double or the quad since 2008 (her most notable achievement is Olympic bronze from London 2012 in the quad). 

Commenting on their Amsterdam final, Kalmoe said: “It’s great to have fast and talented athletes to compete against.”

The Romanians also showed promise in 2014. With youth in their favour, it is likely that Christina Grigoras and Laura Oprea will keep on improving with time. At 24, Grigoras has a number of international medals under her belt from the women’s eight, while Oprea switched over from sculling this year after repeatedly medalling in sculling events at the junior and under-23 level. Together they won European silver in the women’s pair.

View the key 2014 races in our online video archive

World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam, Netherlands

World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland

European Rowing Championships in Belgrade, Serbia