Following their performances at the Senior Trials in Belgium in April and after further testing at the GB Rowing facility at Caversham, University of Bath rowers Dave Lyons and Heather Stanning were selected to race at Essen Regatta in Germany with the rest of GB’s potential Under 23 Squad.
Heather raced with her pairs partner from the World Class Start and Potential Centre at Agecroft Rowing Club in Manchester, Olivia Whitlam.
Heather and Olivia have trained intermittently since January due to the geography separating the two centres but have consistently performed as the fastest GB Under 23 Women’s Coxless Pair this season.
At Essen they continued this trend and with only a few days together in the run up to the event due to Heather’s exams, the pair walked away from the event with two wins in the bag.
They didn’t have a perfect race in either of the two finals but did enough to secure victory and showed the way for the rest of the team, finishing the weekend as the only boat to have won twice.
Meanwhile, on the men’s team the majority of the boats were formed from club units rather than having the best guys all in the same boat. Dave raced in the eight which was primarily an Oxford Brookes boat but with one guy from York and another from Molesey.
On the Saturday the eight did not row well and finished eight seconds behind the Polish Under 23 eight and narrowly beat the Belgian eight.
The crew raced much harder on the Sunday in an incredibly close race where the first five crews all finished within tw seconds of each other.
Unfortunately the GB eight was at the back of the five, but showed much more heart than in their race on the Saturday.
Overall, the event was a success for GB with two wins on the Saturday and six on the Sunday. However, not all of the main nations were in attendance and the Germans were changing crews throughout the weekend so it is important to keep things in perspective.
From a World Class Start point of view, 12 of the 43 athletes were from WCS and of the 18 medallists, eight were WCS athletes.
The World Class Start and Potential Programme identifies and develops future International oarsmen and women with the potential to be succesful Olympians in Beijing in 2008, London in 2012 and the future. The World Class Start Programme is funded by Lottery Money via UKSport and is sponsored by Siemens.