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Countdown to Rio: Summer sports week in review

September 2, 2013 06:43 am

British Rowing officials were rewarded for their decision to pack their men's eight with top talent at the rowing World Championships - a brave tactic that reaped a golden dividend.

Countdown to Rio: Summer sports week in review

After a mixed World Cup campaign, cox Phelan Hill yelled the orders to a powerful crew that included Olympic men's four gold medallists Alex Gregory, Andy Triggs Hodge and Pete Reed.

Moe Sbihi, Tom Ransley, Will Satch, George Nash and Dan Ritchie completed the boat which beat the previously all-conquering Olympic champions Germany by six foot.

“We knew the Germans had a strong sprint finish,” said Hill. 

“In the last 250 metres, I called out to Andy, Pete and Alex that they were our Olympic champions, and this was where I really needed them.”

Olympic champion Helen Glover continued her unbeaten season with new partner Polly Swann to win women's pair gold - and was admitted it felt great to belt out the national anthem again.

“At the Olympics I didn’t sing because I was crying, so I was determined to this time,” said Glover, who had never won a world championship gold with Olympic partner Heather Stanning.

And elsewhere there were bronze medals for brothers Richard and Peter Chambers in the lightweight men's double sculls, the men's lightweight pair and four and Ruth Walczak in the lightweight women's single sculls.

In addition, the men’s quad of Peter Lambert, Charles Cousins, Sam Townsend and Graeme Thomas made history by winning Britain's first-ever world medal in the discipline.

“I am very proud of our rowers. The men's eight gold was the perfect conclusion to the first Championships of the Rio Olympiad,” said British Rowing performance director Sir David Tanner.

“Overall we had 41 rowers in the Olympic class A finals. There was an exceptional spread of medal winning countries, here in Chungju, which is great for our sport and we now have a strong platform to build towards Olympic and Paralympic qualification in two years time on the road to Rio.”

Liam Heath and Jon Schofield won the K2 200m silver medal at canoeing's sprint World Championships in Duisburg, going one better than their bronze at last summer's London Games.

"It certainly feels like we are getting closer to them and we are absolutely delighted to come away with the silver medal," said Schofield, after finishing just behind Russian Olympic champions Alexander Dyachenko and Yury Postrygay.

"We've made some improvements this year and since the Europeans nine weeks ago we have put in a really good block of training where we really pushed hard and it's paid dividends.

"This is way up there with our best and it means we are second in the world at the moment, which is the highest we have ever been. 

"It matches our silver medal from 2011 and the field is getting ever harder every single time so to stay on top with the quality of the competition is pretty special."

Ed Rutherford won bronze in the non-Olympic K1 5000m class while Olympic champion Ed McKeever settled for sixth in the K1 200m.

"Medals haven't come easily to any nation this year and it was an outstanding medal for Liam and John," said British Canoeing performance director John Anderson. 

"I'm delighted for them both and they finished a lot closer to the Russians than they did in London last summer.

"Ed delivered a tactically good race in a high-class field. Germany's Max Hoff, who finished behind him in fourth place is an outstanding athlete with success in distance events so this was a great medal for Ed to win."

Finn sailor Ed Wright secured a fourth straight World Championship podium place - and believes his increasing confidence in light winds bodes well for Rio.

“This week has been really good for me as I’m mainly known for my strengths in the strong winds, and this week has been really light,” said Wright, who finished behind Brazilian Jorge Zarif but ahead of Dutchman Pieter Jan Postma.

“I’ve lost weight and trimmed down a lot of my equipment for this season to be more competitive in the light winds, which we expect more of in Rio."

William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning claimed individual eventing bronze at the European Championships in Malmo but the British team, silver medallists at London 2012 last year, ranked sixth, the first time in 20 years they've not won been in the top threel at the event.

“I came here with the expectation of winning an individual medal. If Chilli was on good form, I knew he could,” said Fox-Pitt.

“We also came here with high hopes to win a team medal and naturally we are disappointed. We've been very fortunate to be part of strong teams for so long when things have gone right."

Shara Proctor claimed the Diamond League long jump title after a win in Zurich, making some amends from her disappointing sixth place finish at the recent World Championships in Moscow.

And Adam Gemili clocked a season's best 10.06 seconds in the 100m, won in Switzerland by world champion Usain Bolt.

However, he still believes he has more to offer this season, as he seeks to become the first British sprinter to dip below 20 and ten seconds for the 200m and 100m.

“A season’s best and nearly a personal best so I’m happy. It feels great and a learning experience,” said Gemili.

“I fell out of the blocks and lost about a tenth of a second or so. I tried to drive out of the blocks but stumbled and had to pick myself up."

Gordon Benson, who was part of Team GB at this year's Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney, won the ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup at Eton Dorney.

Benson lead home team-mate Grant Sheldon while Sophie Coldwell took third in the women's race.

“It was a good race, everyone worked well on the bike and that was what I wanted, we stayed away and then went for it on the run. I came here to qualify and to take away a win is a bonus," said Benson.

Elsewhere, two-time Paralympic champion Danielle Brown won her first able-bodied British title with victory in the compound final at the ArcheryGB National Series finals in Nottingham.

London 2012 Olympian Amy Oliver - who has spent most of the last 12 months recovering from extensive shoulder surgery - won the women's recurve title while Olympic team-mate Alan Wills emerged victorious in the men's event.

© Sportsbeat 2013