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Katherine Grainger returns as Scottish rowers get European Championships call

Posted: May 13, 2015

Olympic champion Katherine Grainger will return to international competition for the first time since her emotional London 2012 triumph when the GB Rowing Team start a crucial season at the 2015 European Rowing Championships later this month.

The 39-year-old, from Glasgow, took a break from the sport after winning women’s double sculls gold with Anna Watkins at the Olympics but picked up her oars again in September.

And she will be back in a GB kit when the European Championships take place from May 29-31 in Poznan, Poland, as part of a new-look double scull with Vicky Thornley. The pair finished first and second in the recent GB Rowing Team Senior Trials.

“I’ve been very excited about racing with Vicky,” said Grainger. “I don’t feel it’s a case of ‘here we go again’, I feel like it’s a whole new project and I’m very happy.

“It was a very agonising and long decision for everyone when I made the decision to come back but it was the right decision. I just feel it’s where I belong, being back in a boat.

“The men’s team is up there with the strongest I’ve ever seen and the women’s team feels like it’s on the rise again, so it’s a very exciting thing to be back into.”

Another Olympic champion in the squad is Heather Stanning, who will be looking to complete her collection of international women’s pair titles with Helen Glover.

Lossiemouth’s Stanning missed last year’s European Championships in Belgrade through illness but returned to win the World Championship in Amsterdam in her first season back after serving with the British Army in Afghanistan.

“If you look back 12 months I’m in far better shape than I was then,” said Stanning. “I’ve had a really solid winter and training has been going very well.”

Partner Glover added: “We anticipate an incredibly tough field this year but the aim is to win medals while not losing sight of the main goal, which is Rio next year.”

Olympic medalist Alan Campbell’s recovery from illness means Glasgow’s Angus Groom – a silver-medalist at the World U23 Championships last year – has the chance to impress in the men’s single scull.

“I am absolutely over the moon,” he said. “I’ve had a really good winter – I haven’t missed a session of training – and it is paying off.

“I’ve never actually raced in a single internationally before so it will be a good experience for me and great to test myself against the best in the world.

“We will see how Alan progresses but I am fully committed to fighting for my place at the World Championships this year and the Olympics next.”

Munlochy’s Alan Sinclair is in a new-look men’s four – a boat class in which Britain are reigning Olympic, World and European Champions – along with Nathaniel Reilly-O’Donnell, Tom Ransley and Scott Durant.

“The four has been the flagship event and I hope we can do it justice,” said Sinclair.

“If you look at us as individuals, you might say we are the less experienced guys but what we lack in that we more than make up for in racing edge – we all raise our game for the big day.

“I was in the four in my first year in the team, 2013, and that was with Scott and Noddy but we are much stronger now. We are stronger individuals and Tom is obviously a high-calibre athlete, so that strengthens us even more. We have a really strong base to move from.”

Imogen Walsh, of Inverness, will contest the lightweight women’s single scull after Charlotte Taylor was selected to join Olympic champion Kat Copeland in the double.

And Kirriemuir’s Sam Scrimgeour – a bronze-medalist in the lightweight men’s pair at both the 2013 and 2014 World Championships – is named in the lightweight men’s four with Joel Cassells, Mark Aldred and Chris Bartley.

The European Championships start an important international season that concludes in September with the World Championships in Aiguebelette, France – an event which doubles as a qualification regatta for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Sir David Tanner, Performance Director for the GB Rowing Team, said: “We are not complacent.This is an Olympic qualifying year and other nations will be stepping up.

“The depth of competition will be stronger and, against that background, we are looking at honing a squad that gives us the best possible chance of qualifying all of our men’s boats for Rio.

“The European Championships are an important event in their own right, too, and everyone selected will also want to add medals and titles there.”

The full European Championship crew selection is available at www.gbrowingteam.org.uk

Article provided by GB Rowing team Press Office.