Rowing team for London 2012 Paralympic Games announced
Reigning Paralympic and World Champion Tom Aggar heads a list of eight rowers announced today by ParalympicsGB for the London 2012 Games.
Londoner Aggar will compete in the "arms and shoulders only" single scull - the event he won when rowing made its Paralympic Games debut in Beijing. Rowing takes place for three days at the Games from August 31 with medals being decided on September 2 in all categories.
"I set out four years ago, post-Beijing, to defend my title on home water and I am so proud that I have been selected to represent my country and compete at the London Paralympic Games",
said Aggar who won the Varese International earlier this year against new and strengthening international opposition and is unbeaten since 2007. This is an event in which GB has some strength in depth with Aggar's training partner, Andy Houghton, having taken bronze at the Munich World Cup this year.
“I’d like to congratulate all the rowers selected today. Rowing is the newest sport on the Paralympic programme, but British rowers made a real impact in Beijing. Like their Olympic counterparts, the Rowing team are in great shape and train incredibly hard so I can’t wait to see how they will do on home water. I wish them the best of luck in their final preparations over the coming weeks”,
said Craig Hunter, Chef de Mission for ParalympicsGB.
"We are ambitious to show well at the home Games as part of a well-prepared and focussed ParalympicsGB team. We are aware that other nations have been developing and funding their Paralympic rowing programmes since Beijing and look forward to some great racing at Dorney during the Games",
said GB Rowing Team Performance Director, David Tanner.
Great Britain also won bronze in the mixed adaptive coxed four in Beijing. Today ParalympicsGB has named the crew which won the World title in Bled in 2011 - Pamela Relph, Naomi Riches, Dave Smith and James Roe with cox Lily van den Broecke.
Riches, from Harrow, is the only survivor from the Beijing crew and is part of the current four who won in Varese earlier this year and who won gold at the Munich World Cup in a tight finish with Germany. This event looks set to feature multiple potential opposition from Europe and North America, showing the continuing growth in the Paralympic disciplines in the sport.
Smith, from Dunfermline, was identified into the sport by a ParalympicsGB talent identification programme. He was formerly a GB bobsleigh contender. After winning the World title with rowing in 2009 he was diagnosed with a life-threatening tumour in his neck. Despite a subsequently successful operation to remove it, he was in rehabilitation for a year during which he had to learn to walk again before he could contemplate a return to training - making his comeback to the Paralympic team all the more remarkable.
Smith said: "I am very proud to be competing in London for Great Britain. To be competing on home water is a great prospect, and knowing that we will have a huge support from British supporters is an amazing feeling".
Aylesbury's Relph joined the crew in 2010 and comes from a rowing family. Her sister Monica has rowed for GB internationally.
Roe, a 2009 and 2011 World Champion from Stratford upon Avon, came from a club and University rowing programme before moving into the Paralympic rowing.
"To represent your country at any Paralympic Games would be an honour. To be given the chance to race in your first Games in front of a home crowd no home water will be a truly unforgettable experience".
Van den Broecke, a student from Durham University, took up the coxing seat for the 2010/11 season. She said:
"I'm beyond excited to be part of the Paralympic Games. Not only is it an honour to be coxing some top athletes but the experience will be made even more special when shared with our home nation"
Since Beijing, Britain has also developed a new mixed adaptive double scull. This boat in London will feature Yateley's Nick Beighton and Wokingham's Sam Scowen. The duo put in a great performance to qualify the boat for the Games for the first time when they finished sixth at the 2011 Worlds.
Scowen is a member of Dorney Boat Club whose home water is the Paralympic Course at Eton-Dorney where she first learnt to row and was subsequently spotted through a ParalympicsGB scheme.
Beighton is a Captain in the British Army who was injured in Afghanistan. He came into the sport having seen rowing at Headley Court, the Services rehabilitation centre where injured servicemen and women use rowing ergometers as part of their recovery. Having only started the sport in 2011, Beighton has made huge progress backed throughout by the Army.
"I am proud to have served my country in the Armed Forces and now this is a great honour to represent my country again in a completely different way. It has been a long hard journey since I was injured two and a half years ago and I just want to take this opportunity to thank the countless number of people who have helped me along the way. I wouldn't have achieved this without their support and encouragement. It is a unique opportunity to compete in a home Olympic Games and truly a once in a lifetime chance. Having the support of the nation behind us will hopefully lift our performance to the highest level. I can't wait"
All three boats qualified for the Games through the 2011 World Championships in Bled where Aggar and the four won gold and the double were finalists.
Selected athletes are:
Arms & shoulders single scull (ASM1x)
Born: London. Lives: Maidenhead.
Trunk & arms mixed double scull (TAMix2x)
Born: Stockport. Lives: Yateley, Hampshire
Born: Reading. Lives: Wokingham
Mixed Legs, trunk and arms mixed adaptive coxed four (LTAMix4+)
Born: Hammersmith. Lives: Marlow
Born: Dunfermline. Lives: Aviemore
Born: Leamington Spa. Lives: Stratford-upon-Avon
Lily van den Broecke (cox)
Born: London. Lives: Oxford