North-East quartet Kat Copeland, Jess Eddie, Will Fletcher and Nathaniel Reilly-O’Donnell will continue their preparations for Rio 2016 this weekend by representing the GB Rowing Team at the World Cup in Poznan, Poland – the last big international test before the Olympic Games.
It is a massive competition for Reilly-O’Donnell, who has been selected in Team GB’s 47-strong squad for this summer’s Games but has yet to nail down his place on the starting line.
He has been included in a group of 12 athletes that will make up the men’s eight and men’s pair, plus spares, with the final decision being influenced by this weekend’s performances in Poznan.
Reilly-O’Donnell and Mat Tarrant – who have won World Cup gold and bronze this year in Varese and Lucerne respectively – will race in the men’s pair against fellow Brits Alan Sinclair and Stewart Innes, who won silver at the European Championships.
Returning to the water in Poznan is Ingleby Barwick’s Copeland, whose selection in the Team GB squad means she will have the chance to defend the Olympic lightweight women’s double scull title she won so memorably at London 2012 with Sophie Hosking.
Joining her in the boat this time is Charlotte Taylor. They were rested for last month’s Lucerne World Cup in Switzerland and are looking forward to getting back on the water this weekend.
Fletcher – who started his career at Tyne RC – is all set to make his Olympic debut after being named in the lightweight men’s double scull with Richard Chambers.
Like Copeland and Taylor, Fletcher and Chambers won silver at last year’s World Championships but have raced just once this season, finishing fifth at the Lucerne World Cup, and will be looking to push on from that this weekend.
“We’ve got a race in Poznan and then it will be into some good training up to the Games,” said Fletcher.
“It’s pretty exciting to be part of a big team going away to Rio. This is what we have trained and worked towards for the past four years, well since 2009 actually in my case.”
It’s been an excellent season so far for Durham’s Jess Eddie, who has helped the women’s eight to European Championships gold in Brandenburg, Germany and silver in Lucerne, giving the United States an almighty scare in the process.
The eight has been named unchanged for Rio 2016, where Eddie – who went to the same school as Reilly-O’Donnell, St Leonard’s in Durham – will make her third Olympic appearance. Louisa Reeve will sub in for the unwell Polly Swann in Poznan.
The GB Rowing Team selection for both the Poznan World Cup and Rio 2016 Olympic Games can be found at http://www.britishrowing.org/gb-rowing-team