Sir David Tanner believes his powerful armada of rowing talent is ready to deliver on their foreign mission in Rio de Janeiro.Team GB named 43 of their 47 strong rowing squad for the Olympic Games after qualifying 12 boats in the 14 classes at last year's World Championships, one less than at London 2012 but more than any other rowing nation.
The team is headlined by defending Olympic champions Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, who are unbeaten in the women’s pair in four years.
London 2012 gold medallist Alex Gregory forms part of a new-look men’s four, an event Team GB has won at four straight Games, alongside Mohammed Sbihi, George Nash and Constantine Louloudis.
Double Olympic champions Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge are members of a 12-strong group that will battle for selection in the men’s eight and men’s pair while London 2012 champion Katherine Copeland seeks to defend her lightweight double sculls title with new partner Charlotte Taylor.
Team GB chef de mission Mark England confirmed he expects to take over 350 athletes to Rio de Janeiro, their largest travelling party since the Barcelona Games in 1992, and the rowers take the confirmed number to just over a third of that number.
Great Britain topped the rowing medal table at London 2012 with nine podium positions, including four golds, two silvers and three bronze medals.
“Helen and Heather are unbeaten since the beginning of 2012 and are setting an example in a completely outstanding way,” said Sir David, who will lead the British rowing team for the seventh time in Brazil.
“We are always ambitious and winning gold is our priority and when selecting our boats, that’s how we think. Every medal is important to us but golds are what makes us a winning team.
“Quite a few of this squad were in London but, for many of them, this will be a first away Games. We’ve had some curve balls in the last few weeks and many of them were down to illness. It’s been very challenging but the sign of a good team is how you handle it and hopefully we’ll have a straight run into Rio now.
“In my eight or nine visits there, I’m very confident this will be an outstanding Games. It’s important that the Olympics go around the world and it’s a fabulous city and I don’t think they will let us down.
“We’ve never competed in the city centre of the Olympics before and that’s going to be something very special. The statue of Christ the Redeemer is right behind the rowing start line, it’s an iconic venue for our sport and while it may be a bit windy, we’re from Britain and we’re ready for that."
Team GB unveiled their rowing team on the River Thames in Henley, just a few hundred yards from where stands and boat houses are currently being constructed for next month’s Royal Regatta.
But the challenge of Rio’s Legoa - a lagoon nestled into the foot of a mountain - is a world away from such genteel surroundings and Glover can’t wait to compete.
“It’s going to be an amazing venue and it’s fantastic for our sport to be right in the heart of the Olympic city,” she said.
“I feel a great sense of pride to earn the selection and Heather and I hope to put in a performance that reflects all the hard work of the last four years. We’re ready, we’re excited but we know we will have to compete at the highest level to win again."
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