2004 Olympic Games and World Rowing Championships

The 2004 Olympic regatta took place from 14-22 August at Schinias near Athens.

Entry numbers were capped, as in all sports; the maximum possible of 78 women’s boats took part. These came from 39 countries, the same number as had competed at the previous year’s World Championships, but the spread included several that were competing internationally for the first time – Egypt, Indonesia, Chinese Taipei, Uzbekistan and Vietnam – thanks to some places being reserved for crews from Africa, Asia and Latin America. More on the qualification system shortly.

The 2004 World Rowing Championships, where the four women’s non-Olympic events (the coxless four and the lightweight quad and single) raced, took place from 27 July to 1 August in Banyoles, Spain. 37 women’s crews from 26 countries competed. This was 10 fewer crews and three fewer countries than at the equivalent event in the previous Olympic year, 2000. One factor in this was the lightweight pair being removed from the programme after the 2003 World Championships as it had had fewer than seven starters for three consecutive years.

British women rowed for the first time this year in the adaptive programme at the World Championships in the new mixed coxed fours event.

Qualifying for the 2004 Olympic Regatta

As for the previous two Olympic regattas there were two routes to qualification: by achieving a certain place at the 2003 World Rowing Championships, or via one of four qualification regattas held in the early summer of 2004 for crews from each of the continents of Asia, Africa and Latin America plus an open final qualification regatta. As always, each country could only have one boat per event.

BOAT CLASS2004 OLYMPIC PLACES (2000 PLACES)QUALIFIED AT THE 2003 WORLDSPLACES AVAILABLE AT Asia, Africa and Latin America QUALIFICATION REGATTAsPLACES AVAILABLE AT FINAL QUALIFICATION REGATTA
8o7 (7)52
4x8 (9)7*1
2x10 (10)8*2
2-10 (10)8*2
1x24 (20)9123
Lt 2x17/181 (18)9*62

* = includes Great Britain

1 Greece did not qualify but were allowed to race anyway as they were the host country.

The GB openweight quad, double and coxless pair and the lightweight double scull had all qualified at the 2003 World Championships. Of the other two events in the programme, single sculler Alex Beever had missed out on qualifying by an agonising 1.89 seconds, but an eight hadn’t even been entered and nor had there been one at the World Championships for the previous two years either.

Pre-qualifying four boats was good, but this still left a lot of unknowns at the start of the new season as it was the boat and not the people in it who had qualified, and any individuals could race in these boats at Games themselves. In contrast, once it came to the qualification regattas, the same crew that raced had to row in the boat at the Olympics (with a small number of substitutions permitted). This was to ensure high quality entries by preventing countries from using their top athletes to qualify boats that they didn’t then race in.

Coaching and squad formation

The coaching structure created at the start of this Olympiad in late 2000 continued as planned for the 2004 season with Marty Aitken overseeing the programme in his role as Chief Coach (Women and Lightweights), and Paul ‘Thommo’ Thompson as High Performance Coach (Women).

All nine of the openweight women in the 2003 World Championships team returned for 2004, plus the 2002 pair of Ros Carslake and Bev Gough who had raced as a second crew at one of the World Cups – it was Olympic year, after all, and they were all raring to go, although World Champion Katherine Grainger was harbouring a serious injury. She had hurt her back just before the Worlds, had had to be more or less lifted out of the boat after the semi-final, and had won the final with the aid of physio tape, strong painkillers, adrenaline and a steely focus on the process of rowing well. While she knew something wasn’t quite right in the brief down time that followed, as she explains in her autobiography Dreams Do Come True, she felt perfectly capable of starting training again, and did so. However, her eagle-eyed physio spotted a change in her gait that she wasn’t even aware of; it turned out that she’d sustained major damage to a disc in her spine. To cut a long story short, her rehab regime started working just one day before she would have had to abandon it (and her Olympic dreams) and have surgery. She got back in a boat in January 2004.

It was a difficult time for her pairs partner, Cath Bishop. She explains, “I was away on training camps with the squad really not knowing what boat I was going to end up in. I wanted to carry on doing the pair, of course, but I remember Tommo asking me about how I felt about going into the quad or double and I was thinking, ‘Oh no!'” Cath always much preferred sweep rowing to sculling. She continues, “He was happy for us to continue in the pair if Katherine could row, but he was clearly also preparing me for a situation where I might end up in a sculling crew. I never believed it was going to get to that, though.”

Three months into the new season, Cath wrote in her regular ‘Bladerunner’ slot in Regatta magazine about how it felt to be the reigning World Champion in the final year up to the Athens games, “What a fantastic way to go into an Olympic year. It’s funny how a small shiny disc of metal can provide support, reassurance and massive motivation when the going gets tough as it does on a regular basis when we’re in the business of Olympic preparation every single day for the next eight months. One thing’s for sure, Milan’s over, Athens isn’t… and there’s much to be done.”

In the December 2003 issue of Regatta magazine, the lucky winner of a competition was offered the chance to train for a day with Katherine and Cath. Can you imagine that happening now?

There was a bit of change in the lightweight squad with Jo Nitsch and Tegwen Rooks no longer on the scene through choice or injury and newcomers showing in the mix at trials. At the top of the squad, Helen Casey and Tracy Langlands embarked on the third year of their partnership in the double scull.

WINTER TRAINING, RACING AND ASSESSMENT

Head of the River Fours (1 November 2003)

Racing as Leander, Debbie Flood and Rebecca Romero, the 2003 GB double, along with Alex Beever, the 2003 single sculler, and Alison Mowbray from the 2003 quad were the fastest women’s crew, but they were pressed hard by Elise Laverick and Sarah Winckless, also from the 2003 quad, with Tracy Langlands from the 2003 lightweight double, and Cath Bishop from the pair.

Women’s Eights Head of the River Race (6 March 2004)

This was won by a squad crew that Katherine Grainger describes as a mix of “past, present and future stars” and was designed like that by Thommo to give newer athletes an opportunity to learn and up their game in a race that was outside the international programme. 2000-2001 athlete Alison Trickey represented the first category, Katherine, Cath and Sarah Winckless the second, and the third included Anne Vernon and Alison Knowles.

Final Trials (13-14 April 2004)

These took place at Hazewinkel in the format of a 1,900m time trial followed by 2,000m side by side semi-finals and finals. Other open and closed assessments had taken place since the autumn of 2003, but these were the ones that counted.

NOTE: Names shown in italics denote those who have previously represented GB at senior level and those in bold are women who went on to be selected for the senior Olympic or World Championship teams in 2006.

Openweight single sculls

Time Trial

  1. Frances Houghton: 7.18.2
  2. Rebecca Romero: 7.21.4
  3. Sarah Winckless: 7:21.6
  4. Alison Mowbray: 7.22.8
  5. Elise Laverick: 7.23.8
  6. Debbie Flood: 7.24.9
  7. Alex Beever: 7.27.1
  8. Annie Vernon: 7.40.2

Final

  1. Frances Houghton: 8.05.4
  2. Debbie Flood: 8.07.9
  3. Alison Mowbray: 8.09.2
  4. Rebecca Romero: 8.10.3
  5. Sarah Winckless: 8.13.0
  6. Elise Laverick: 8.21.1

Openweight pairs

Time trial

  1. Katherine Grainger/Cath Bishop: 6.54.7
  2. Bev Gough/Ros Carslake: 7.05.3
  3. Alison Knowles/Beth Rodford: 7.07.3
  4. Lizzie Crichton/Jess Eddie: 7.07.5
  5. Louisa Rowbotham/Kate Hewitt: 7.09.0
  6. Natasha Page/Anna Bebington: 7.12.1
  7. Natasha Howard/Kathryn Stewart: 7.12.6
  8. Amanda Skailes/Emma James: 7.13.7
  9. Vicky Myers/Carla Ashford: 7.15.1
  10. Sarah Waldron/Hilary Powell: 7.22.2
  11. Jo Cook/Lizzie Tatman: 7.26.1

Final

  1. Katherine Grainger/Cath Bishop: 7.36.7
  2. Bev Gough/Ros Carslake: 7.46.1
  3. Lizzie Crichton/Jess Eddie: 7.48.3
  4. Louisa Rowbotham/Kate Hewitt: 7.52.6
  5. Natasha Howard/Kathryn Stewart: 7.54.7
  6. Alison Knowles/Beth Rodford: 7.54.9

Chris Dodd summed up the outcome of the trials in a report for Regatta, writing, “Chief Coach Marty Aitken has been set challenges by the women. Kath Grainger and Cath Bishop are in a class of their own in the pair, and if anyone still harbours the idea of an attempt to qualify an eight for GB at Athens, forget it for 2004. Frances Houghton is a single sculler int he making, the way she commanded the scullers, but there is no guaranteed single[s] place for GB at Athens, and she’s not ready for that when she is already a cert for the double or quad. ‘I think it is hard to qualify for the Olympics and then do well there. But in the future, yes,’ she said. Aitken’s task is to find the right combinations in the double and quad to lift one or both into the Athens medal zone – both were fourth last year.”

After the usual further crew-formation seat racing, final selection went with the trials results. Frances, Debbie, Alison and Rebecca became the quad, which was the top sculling crew, with Sarah and Elise in the double. Alex Beever continued in single, although she didn’t race at any of the World Cup regattas due of injury. Katherine and Cath were selected as the pair, but the 2002 pair of Bev and Ros teamed up with Lizzie and Jess in a four for the World Championships.

Fixing the crews at the start of the season provided the continuity that had made everything very difficult in 2000, the previous Olympic year, and, indeed, in other years where changes were made right up to the World Championships or Olympic regatta.

Lightweight single sculls

Time trial

Single scull

  1. Tracy Langlands: 7.03.2
  2. Jo Hammond: 7.31.0
  3. Helen Casey: 7.38.0
  4. Lorna Norris: 7.40.2
  5. Laura Ralston: 7:41.7
  6. Jane Hall: 7.42.11
  7. Tanya Pollitt: 7.42.15
  8. Julia Warren: 7.43.0
  9. Laura Greenhalgh: 7.45.4
  10. Sarah Birch: 7.46.5

Final

  1. Tracy Langlands: 8.24.1
  2. Jo Hammond: 8.26.6
  3. Laura Greenhalgh: 8.31.7
  4. Laura Ralston: 8.34.5
  5. Helen Casey: 8.34.8
  6. Lorna Norris: 8.37.6

Summer racing and training

World Cup I: Poznan (7-9 May 2004)

The number of entries in each event at this regatta varied wildly; both the open and lightweight doubles had huge fields, but most of the other events only attracted a handful of crews.

In the pairs, Cath and Katherine came second in a straight final, 1.19 seconds behind the Romanian crew whom they’d beaten by a similar margin at the Worlds the previous year, but who had won the event in 2001 and 2002, and one of them was also the reigning Olympic Champion. Cath was quoted in Regatta magazine afterwards as saying, “It was not our best finish. We haven’t worked on that yet. We have pace and the basics are good. Now we need to take control of the race.”

Elise and Sarah finished fifth out of 18 crews in the doubles, just 0.52 seconds off the fourth-placed Bulgarians with three German pairs taking the medals.

The quad won a close four-boat straight final where all the crews finished within three seconds of each other.

Alex Beever was ill so didn’t race in the single sculls which was also a straight final.

Helen and Tracy finished ninth out of 22 crews in the lightweight doubles. Lightweight single sculler Jo Hammond was fourth out of 11 boats, just 0.44 seconds off bronze.

There was no lightweight quads event.

World Cup II: Munich (27-29 May 2004)

This time the pairs had a larger entry of 11 boats. The GB crew won, but the Romanians were absent.

The double came second, 4.75 seconds behind the World Champions in the event, the Evers-Swindell sisters from New Zealand. Sarah and Elise’s performance was particularly impressive as Sarah was doubling up in the quad, subbing for Frances who had gone down with a stomach bug the day before racing started. The quad also finished second, 7.99 seconds behind Germany who hadn’t fielded a crew in Poznan.

Again, there was no GB openweight single sculler and no event for lightweight quads.

Jo Hammond was sixth out of 16 in the lightweight single sculls with three Germans ahead of her, with Helen and Tracy also sixth, out of 19 in the lightweight doubles, 8.55 seconds off bronze.

Final Olympic Qualification Regatta (16 June 2004)

Alex Beever reached the final of the single sculls but did not finish in the top three who secured the remaining tickets to the Olympics.

World Cup III: Lucerne (20 June 2004)

In contrast with the first two World Cup regattas, and as is usual at Lucerne, most World Championships crews entered.

After racing their final in torrential rain, the quad snatched the gold medal by 0.08 seconds from Germany. Crucial to this was the new start sequence and way of rowing it that they’d been working very hard on since Munich. Their win also made them outright winners of the World Cup series for the event and, perhaps more significantly, the first British women’s quad to beat a German quad. [Those without much familiarity with rowing might not appreciate the significance of this, but it was IMMENSE. The Germans had been dominant in all forms of rowing for decades, and only had a bit of a dip around the fall of the Berlin Wall. – Ed.]

A photo of them with their medals can be seen here.

Cath and Katherine were third in the pairs behind Romania and the 2003 silver medallists from Belarus.

The double finished fourth, behind New Zealand and two German crews, 1.74 seconds off bronze. Sarah remembers, “I had stitched in my hand because I’d manage to pierce it with a knife when I was having an avocado between training sessions so our Lucerne probably wasn’t the progression we were looking at because I wasn’t as clever as I should have been with my right hand.”

Britain fielded two fours in what turned out to be a three-boat straight final with a Danish crew. GBR2, which would go onto the be the under-23 four of Natasha Page, Beth Rodford, Anna Watkins and Alison Knowles took the gold medal, finishing 4.17 seconds ahead of the senior crew of Bev Gough, Jess Eddie, Lizzie Crichton and Ros Carslake.

Jo Hammond was fourth in the lightweight singles, 2.63 seconds off the Australian bronze medallist, with two Germans taking gold and silver. Shelley Wilkins was 15th.

The lightweight double finished fifth, 5.75 seconds off bronze, and the lightweight quad came third in a four-boat straight final.

Henley Royal Regatta (30 June-4 July 2004)

The quad won the Prince Grace Challenge Cup, using the first two races as ‘training’ pieces and then beating a Ukrainian national squad crew in the final.

A GB squad development eight coxed by Charlotte Ware and comprising the World Championships four plus four rowers from the under-23 team – Anna Bebington, Beth Rodford, Natasha Page and Jo Cook – won the Remenham Challenge Cup, beating Princeton University in the final.

Alex Beever reached the semi-final of the Prince Royal Challenge Cup where she lost by three quarters of a length to Rika Geyser from South Africa.

Final Olympic team selection

Quad scull

B: Alison Mowbray (Leander Club)
2: Debbie Flood (Leander Club)
3: Frances Houghton (University of London BC)
S: Rebecca Romero (Leader Club)

Coaches: Mark Banks and Paul Thompson

Double scull

B: Elise Laverick (Thames RC)
S: Sarah Winckless (Walbrook and Royal Canoe Club)

Coach: Miles Forbes-Thomas

Pair

B: Katherine Grainger (St Andrew BC)
S: Cath Bishop (Marlow RC)

Coach: Paul Thompson and Miles Forbes-Thomas

Lightweight double scull

B: Helen Casey (Wallingford RC)
S: Tracy Langlands (Leander Club)

Coaches: Marty Aitken/Nick Strange

Openweight Reserve

Lizzie Crichton (University of London BC)

At the Games

After final training camps in Breisach and then Varese, the GB team arrived in Athens. They stayed in a hotel because Schinias was sufficiently outside Athens that travel to and from the Olympic Village wasn’t practical during competition, although they moved there for the second week of the Games once the regatta was over to enjoy the whole experience. With rowing starting on the first day of competition, none of the team went to the Opening Ceremony, although Alison Mowbray and Debbie Flood let a parade around the hotel after the rowers had watched the real one on TV.

It was very, VERY hot. They had various products (such as gel-filled ‘ice’ jackets) and drinks to mitigate this, but there was no getting away from it. Nevertheless, the grave concern about windy conditions when Junior Worlds were at the same venue the previous year turned out to be groundless and much of the racing took place in near-perfect calm, although there were a few averagely choppy days.

Pair (2nd out of 10)

Cath reflects that she and Katherine were optimistic as they went to the Games, although in her case this was guarded. “I was still struggling with demons and I was very aware that the Romanians were unbeaten apart from when we’d beaten them at the World Championships in 2003. Bits of the year hadn’t been ideal but I still believed things could happen.”

The finished second in their heat, 6.93 seconds behind Belarus with just one crew going directly to the final. Romania won the other heat. Katherine explained in her autobiography, “The preparation had been good so we were devastated to be off the pace in the heat… and yet nothing had felt awful – which was the worst thing. If we had been able to explain what had gone wrong then it would have been easier, but we couldn’t.” Cath adds, “It was a difficult first race and we didn’t want anyone else beating us so we had sensible discussions about getting stuff back on track.”

These clearly worked as they won their repechage by 4.25 sec from New Zealand, both crews securing places in the A final. It’s notable that Katherine’s Sydney crewmate Gillian Lyndsay, who is one of the commentators in the video below, highlights that Belarus and Romania were very fast in the heats and predicts that that the GB crew are now just chasing for the silver or bronze medals.

In the final, the passed through the first three timing point in fourth place behind Romania, Canada and Belarus before overtaking Canada and Belarus by the finish. They crossed the line 2.11 seconds down on the Romanians.

Katherine reflected, “In the final we had the best race of the regatta. Once again we had a flying finish, but we had left ourselves too much to do… The result was a mix of emotions. We had won a silver medal, a fantastic achievement in itself and especially in the face of all that had gone before. But there was a feeling that if we had got things absolutely right then we could have won the gold.”

Cath adds, “Steve Redgrave was there as part of the commentary team and obviously observes all of the racing very closely and always said that what was vital for us at the Worlds in 2003 was that we had four races – a heat, a rep, a semi and a final. But in Athens we only had a heat a rep and a final and which wasn’t quite enough to keep stepping up. But that’s how it is and all the crews were in the same situation, so I’m not saying that’s an excuse at all, but it was a bit of a disappointment to come second.”

She continues, “As Katherine had won silver in 2000 the next thing is to win gold. On paper we were technically capable of being the ones so undoubtedly we wanted that. Who would have thought it would actually be 12 years beyond Sydney before that happened? But we’d also been through a hell of a journey; I was certainly very aware that I’d been seventh and ninth at my first two Olympic Games so I think very quickly came round to a sense of ‘it’s not what I wanted but I can live with it’ in a way that I hadn’t found it easy to live with the previous results. I was content that that’s what I did and I could move on.”

Katherine had become the first British woman to win two Olympic rowing medals.

Quad scull (2nd out of 8)

As they had suspected would happen, the German crew was strengthened by the addition of triple Olympic gold medallist Kathrin Boron who moved into the quad from the double after Lucerne, as the New Zealand crew in that event was judged impossible to beat.

The GB quad won their heat by 2.12 seconds from Russia. The Germans won the other heat in a time that was just 0.89 seconds slower.

In the final, the Germans led from the start. The British crew were fifth at 500m, then third at 1000m and 1500m with the Australians lying ahead of them. International Manager David Tanner described in the Almanack how they then overtook Australia by 1,250m and, “Moving back on Germany in the closing stages, [the] quad finished three quarters of a length behind to win an outstanding silver medal.”

A photo of them collapsed after the line can be seen here. It had been a monumental effort.

As with the pair, they were all happy with their medal, though obviously not as ecstatic as they would have been to win gold. Alison described in her autobiography how Frances summed up what they were all feeling, saying, “This silver medal is the result of aiming for gold all season.”

Double scull (3rd out of 10)

Sarah and Elise finished second in their heat, 4.18 seconds behind New Zealand. with rest of the field spread out behind that.

They then won their repechage by 4.56 seconds from Romania.

In the final, the gold and silver medals went to the two heat winners, New Zealand and Germany. The British crew took the bronze medal, finishing 4.8 seconds off silver and over eight seconds ahead of the next crew, Bulgaria, whom they’d overtaken in the last 500m after lying fourth until that point.

Sarah remembers, “I couldn’t see or hear in the last 250m so I’d probably worked too hard at some point earlier in the race.” But she reflects now that they rowed as well as they could in the final, “Every race is 240 odd strokes and there are some of those that are near perfect and the boat’s working together and there are some that are not, but I think for where we were we got it right and we committed to the race plan. We wanted to go at 3’40” towards the end which we did do, and I don’t really remember the last part of the race. I was desperate that I hadn’t let Elise down because I was in so much physiological trouble in that last part.”

She adds that after the race, “I was in big trouble, lying on the landing stage throwing up, which wasn’t normal for me. For some athletes it is but it wasn’t for me, and I think it was because it was an extraordinarily hot environment and we’re northern hemisphere bodies. Paula Radcliffe struggled the next day with the heat in the marathon and one of the Australian women’s eight partly collapsed during their final.

A photo of them rowing away from the medal pontoon can be seen here.

Sarah (left), coach Miles Forbes-Thomas and Elise. Sarah says, “Miles was brilliant with us that year and we had a group of three there that really did just get on with our stuff.” (Photo: Elise Sherwell’s personal collection.)

Lightweight double scull (9th out of 18)

In contrast with their openweight team mates, all of whom returned from Athens with medals, Helen and Tracy were off the pace throughout this incredibly competitive event as their results so far had suggested.

They finished fourth behind Australia, Canada and Denmark in their heat of six from which only one went directly to the semi-finals. Coming second in their repechage behind China, put them into what turned out to be the faster of the two A/B semi-finals where they finished fifth behind Romania, Netherlands, Germany and USA, the first three of whom went on to take the medals in the A final.

Roundup

This was the second Olympic regatta at which British women medalled and the first where the team won three medals.

What’s particularly noticeable when the story of 2004 is compared with those from previous years during the this Olympiad and particularly with previous Olympic campaigns is that by selecting crews early they were able to work on the details needed to excel at this level. The levels of physio and psychologist support was also significant; although some of these had been provided before, the quantity and quality and been transformed since Lottery funding became available the setup in 1997.

World Rowing Championships

Final selection

Coxless four (6th out of 11)

B: Bev Gough (Nottinghamshire County Rowing Association)
2: Lizzie Crichton (University of London BC)
3: Jess Eddie (University of London BC)
S: Ros Carslake (Leander Club)

Coach: Pete Somerville

Lightweight quad scull (8th out of 8)

B: Sarah Birch (Kingston RC)
2: Julia Warren (Weybridge Ladies ARC)
3: Antonia van Deventer (Rob Roy BC)
S: Tanya Pollitt (Wallingford RC)

Coach: Pete Sudbury

Lightweight single scull

Jo Hammond (Rob Roy BC)

Coach: Matt Luscombe

Reserve

Shelley Wilkins (Oxford University Lightweight Women’s BC)

Adaptive LTA Coxed Four

Katie George-Dunlevy (Royal Docks RC)
Naomi Riches (Royal Docks RC)
Paul Askham-Spencer (Derby RC)
Alan Crowther (Derby RC)
Cox: Loretta Williams (York City RC)

Coach: Simon Goodey

At the World Championships

Lightweight single scull (2nd of 18)

Jo came second in her heat of six from which only one progressed directly to the semi-finals but then came second behind Sinead Hayes of Ireland in her repechage from which three went through.

In her semi-final she finished an impressive second, just 0.89 seconds behind the German sculler who’d won one of the other heats.

She reached the 500m marker first in the final before dropping back to third behind the German and Irish scullers for the next two timing points before overtaking the Irish sculler again to win the silver medal.

International Manager David Tanner described her as “The star of the senior team” in his report for the Almanack, adding that, “Despite a nagging rib injury she improved in every race to qualify for the final [where] four boats contested the medals.”

Here are photos of her racing and with the other medallists.

Coxless four (6th out of 11)

The four won their heat in fine style, rowing through from third place in the last 500m to finish 0.51 seconds ahead of Ukraine in a time that was only 0.48 seconds slower than the winners of the other heat, Belarus. This put them straight through to the A final where they almost seemed a different crew, passing the 500m marker in fourth place before dropping back to sixth for the remainder of the course, finishing 9.12 seconds behind Belarus who took the bronze medal.

Lightweight Quad (8th out of 8)

The quad finished fourth in their heat of four from which only one progressed straight to the A final and then fifth out of six in the repechage, just over five seconds outside qualifying for the A final. In the 2-boat B final, they finished 2.25 seconds behind Australia, whom they’d beaten in the repechage.

A photo of them racing can be seen here.

This was Sarah Birch’s last international appearance after first being selected in 1997. Her personal view, which perhaps reflects her long experience of racing at World Championships, is that they shouldn’t have been selected as they weren’t fast enough. However, new talent takes time to be developed and gain the requisite experience and the rest of her crew was just that; Julia had only raced at a World Championships for the first time the previous year in the now defunct coxless pairs, while Antonia and Tania were completely new to competition at this level, particularly as there had only been one World Cup regatta that included this event.

LTA Mixed Coxed Four (1st out of 10)

The four won their heat by 5.15 seconds and their final by 7.82 seconds. A photo of them with their medals can be seen here. GB’s adaptive rowing programme was in a different league from those of other countries.

World Rowing Junior Championships

These took place in Banyoles, Spain from 27-31 July 2004.

Coxless four (6th out of 9)

B: Stephanie McDowall (George Heriots BC)
2: Sophie Hosking (Kingston Grammar School BC)*
3: Francesca Jus-Burke (Nottingham Schools Rowing Association)
S: Hannah Elsy (Kingston Grammar School BC)

Coach: Eve Singfield

* Indicates a previous participation at the World Rowing Junior Championships.

Double scull (9th out of 17)

B: Tina Stiller (St Peter’s School BC)
S: Lauren Fisher (Nottingham Schools Rowing Association)

Coach: Bobby Gibson

Coxless pair (4th out of 9)

B: Lizzi Hills (St Neots RC)
S: Vicky Tatman (Dame Alice Harpur School BC)

Coach: Eira Parry

A photo of the pair racing can be seen here.

World Under-23 Regatta

This took place in Poznan, Poland from 6-8 August 2004.

Coxless Four (1st out of 11)

B: Natasha Page (Reading University BC)
2: Beth Rodford (Thames RC)*
3: Anna Bebington (Rob Roy BC)
S: Alison Knowles (Thames RC)*

Coach: Gary Stubbs

* Indicates a previous participation at the World Under-23 Regatta.

Beth had also previously rowed for GB at the World Rowing Junior Championships in 1999 and 2000, as had Natasha from 2001 to 2003. Anna was part of the World Class Start programme at Rob Roy after learning to row at Newnham College, Cambridge. All four of this crew would step up to the senior GB team in 2005.

Pair (3rd out of 8)

B: Jo Cook (Nottinghamshire County Rowing Association)
S: Annabel Vernon (Rob Roy BC)

Coach: Adrian Cassidy

Jo Cook had been a GB Junior from 2000 to 2002 and would go to be selected for the senior team in 2009. Annie had rowed for the Cambridge blue boat in 2003 and would gain her first senior selection in 2005.

Single scull (7th out of 15)

Katie Greves (University of London BC)**

Coach: Damian West

Katie had also been a GB Junior in 1999 and 2000 and would go on to be selected for the senior team in 2005.

Lightweight double scull (6th out of 12)

B: Laura Ralston (University of London BC)
S: Laura Greenhaulgh (Wallingford RC)

Coach: Marcus Munato

Laura Greenhaulgh had been a GB Junior in 2003 and would gain senior selction in 2007. Laura Ralston would be selected for the senior team in 2006.

This under-23 team is possibly the only one where all members went on to be selected for the senior team.

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© Helena Smalman-Smith, 2022