GB duo Pete Reed and Andy Hodge face tough ask


World Cup 1:
27-29 May
Live on BBC Red Button and online (UK only) 29 May 1000-1315 BST; Highlights on BBC2 30 May 1300-1430 and afterwards on iPlayer; news reports on 5 live
GB men's pair Andy Hodge and Pete Reed

If you lose to the same team 12 times in a row how confident can you be of beating them the next time?

Great Britain's top two male rowers, Pete Reed and Andy Hodge, say they are confident of stopping the run that has seen New Zealand's Hamish Bond and Eric Murray dominate them in men's pairs over the past couple of years.

Both boats are head-and-shoulders ahead of their rivals and the Kiwis are not in Munich for this weekend's first World Cup event of the season, so Pete and Andy should win comfortably.

But I don't have that much confidence in their chances in the long-term, as we get closer to the London 2012 Olympics.

They are the second best pair in the world, but they won Olympic gold in the coxless fours in Beijing and they won't like the thought of coming away from the London Games without another gold.

The British pair got very close to beating Bond and Murray at last year's World Championships, losing by 0.32 seconds, but that was the closest they have come in 12 attempts.

Are they thinking that, as they got close last time, they can get them next time? Or do they think this is the closest they will ever get?

I like their decision to stay as a pair because the easy option is to move back into a four, which would all but guarantee gold at the World Championships in Slovenia at the end of August.

I know Andy and Pete have been frustrated at not being world champions in the pairs so for us bystanders it will be a good spectacle to see these two crews go head-to-head again.

But if they don't beat the Kiwis this year I think Pete and Andy will be back in a four-man boat next year. Even if they do beat the Kiwis, the stronger odds are that they will still be in a four.

Whether they continue in the pair will show a lot about their psyche, although the head coach Jurgen Grobler will have a big say.

I was disappointed when Matt Pinsent - my former pairs partner - and James Cracknell ran away from the pair to the four for the Athens Olympics in 2004, where they won gold.

But winning a gold medal at the Olympics is what it is all about. From a British perspective, we need gold at London 2012.

If I were still in the pair, I wouldn't be getting beaten by the Kiwis in the first place. I'd be in the event I wanted to go in and looking to frighten everyone else out of the water.

This year's World Cup events are incredibly important as the final events before the 2011 World Championships, where Olympic qualifying places are on offer.

Countries qualify boats for each category, although the personnel in each boat can be changed later.

Of the other British boats in action this weekend, the men's four will be out to prove a point against world champions France.

The reigning Olympic champions should have won gold last year but there was a crosswind which helped the French in lane one, although Britain did get beaten by New Zealand who were in the next lane so that negates their excuses a little because you should never be beaten by the team in the next lane. Ever.

The women's double offers a great opportunity for Mel Wilson who comes in to partner Kath Grainger as Anna Watkins is out injured.

Kath and Anna are the reigning world champions so Mel has nothing to lose but there will still be pressure on her and I'm sure she'll feel it.

If they win, everyone will say Kath is brilliant and if they lose, it will be seen as Mel's fault.

In the men's lightweight doubles, Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter go up against a big field but both they, and I, will be disappointed if they don't win.

Sir Steve Redgrave was talking to BBC Sport's Peter Scrivener.

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