European Champs attracts rowing's powerhouses
The announcement of Great Britain's team for the 2014 European Rowing Championships in Belgrade, Serbia saw the world's top rowing nation boating their best.
This is the first time that Great Britain has sent their top crews to the European Championships and it marks the continued growth in importance of the regatta. Revealing the team, Great Britain's performance director, David Tanner stated in the GB press release, "The European Championships have emerged as an important event in their own right and we are ambitious to do well in Belgrade."
The British team will contest 16 of the 17 boat classes to be raced with the line-up including a new-look men's four of Alex Gregory, Mohamed Sbihi, Geroge Nash and Andrew Triggs Hodge. The women's pair will see World Champions Helen Glover and Polly Swann paired up again. Glover recently won the British pair trials with her Olympic Champion partner, Heather Stanning. Stanning, however, will not be racing on medical advice. The lightweight men's four has three members of the crew that took silver at the 2012 Olympic Games, with the inclusion of Mark Aldred.
"We've never had the opportunity to go and race at the Europeans so medals will be highly sought after," says British rower Jessica Eddie who will compete in the women's eight at Belgrade.
The change to make the European Championships an early season event rather than a post-World Rowing Championships event has helped to attract a high-calibre field. "The Europeans has always fallen at a tricky time for us," says Eddie. "When it was a few weeks after the World Champs it clashed with our annual break away from training."
Germany was the top nation at the 2013 European Rowing Championships in Seville (ESP) and they will be racing in Belgrade with their top boats. "These Championships are important," says German high performance director Mario Woldt. "We are happy with the date and this event is a step towards the World Championships at the end of the season in Amsterdam."
Woldt uses the European Championships to see how Germany stacks up against other nations. "It enables us, as well as the other federations, to get an idea about where we all stand internationally. There is no doubt, the competition will be strong."
"We are happy with the date and the format of these European Championships. We expect good TV-coverage in Germany," says Woldt who will be sending a full team to Belgrade.
"I'm really looking forward to racing in Belgrade again, after competing there in 2003 as an under 23 and the World Cup in 2012," says Eddie. "It's a brilliant venue and the lake has a great atmosphere."
The European Rowing Championships will take place from 30 May - 1 June 2014. The regatta is open to all European nations plus Israel. Entries close on 16 May and an announcement of entries will be made by World Rowing on 20 May.