Great Britain’s men’s eight rowing team, priced at 7/2 by BetFred, led by veteran Greg Searle, will go for gold at Eton Dornay on Wednesday after powering to victory in the heats on Monday. Searle, now aged 40, was Olympic champion with his brother Jonny at Barcelona 1992, and competed at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics before retiring. Since making a comeback three years ago though, he has since won successive world silver medals in the Great Britain eight – the boat in which he now sits proudly this week.
That is one half of the story, but also helping to secure a place in the Final was 20-year-old stroke Constantine Louloudis, who is racing on his home course at Dorney Lake which is owned by his former school, Eton College. He missed most of the big international races en-route to London 2012, but is held in such high regard that the selectors had no hesitation in opting to put him in the stroke seat, a vital part of the crew. And although Great Britain lost their heat to the fancied German outfit, there was never any doubt in the repechage as they finished just ahead of the reigning Olympic champions Canada.
With that confidence-boosting row behind them, Searle and co should make a bold bid to reverse the form with Germany who are rated favourites by BetFred at 2/9, and will not fear the other heat winners USA either.In the women’s eight, Canada posted the best time in the heats, powering home in 6:13.91, nearly three seconds ahead of Romania and over five seconds clear of the Netherlands, while in the earlier heat on Sunday, the USA, as expected, proved far too strong for their three rivals, including Great Britain, as they came home in the water in 6:14.68, fully six seconds ahead of nearest pursuers Australia, with Team GB and Germany well adrift.
On this evidence, whoever makes it out of the repechage will have to improve dramatically to have any hope of reaching either of the first two places on the podium on Thursday. The U.S.A, world and Olympic champions, are unbeaten since 2006, but the heat times suggest that Canada are capable of pushing them all the way.