GB rowers win five trophies at Henley Regatta

By Martin GoughBBC Sport

Great Britain put in a show of strength at Henley Royal Regatta, winning five trophies at their last major event in the UK before the London 2012 Olympics.

Pair Peter Reed and Andy Hodge equalled the Henley record of Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent in beating Italy.

Double Matt Wells and Marcus Bateman stopped Olympic champions Australia and GB's quad beat world champs Croatia.

The GB men's four then set a new record of 6 min 19 sec in beating their American counterparts.

Alan Campbell beat Australian Nick Hudson easily to win the Diamond Challenge Sculls for the third time, with each of his wins having come in the year before an Olympic Games.

Great Britain's eights both reached their finals but the women's crew were unable to topple world champions the United States.

The men's eight, featuring 38-year-old Greg Searle, lost to arch-rivals Germany, after an appeal over their rivals' steering was turned down.

The results show the British squad have maintained their form ahead of the third and final World Cup series event of the summer in Lucerne next weekend, after they missed the second event in Hamburg because of fears over the E.coli outbreak in Germany.

"It's been an excellent regatta for Great Britain, the first time all the men's boats have reached finals, and with a good performance by the women," said Redgrave, now an official at the event.

Reed and Hodge, racing for their clubs Leander and Molesey, beat their Italian rivals with a time of 6'56 over the one mile 550 yard course.

That was the same as the mark set by Redgrave and Pinsent in 1995, the year before the famous duo won their second Olympic title together in Barcelona.

Pinsent, who is umpiring at the regatta, said: "A record is lovely to have but it's nice to see them go because it shows what good form they're in."

However, the duo's main rivals, world champions Eric Bond and Hamish Murray of New Zealand, were absent from Henley, but will be waiting for the GB duo in Lucerne and remain a massive obstacle to Olympic gold in London.

Hodge told BBC Sport: "They're the current gold medallists, the main opposition but we've got to make sure we execute what we do and we did that today.

"We came out with all guns blazing and we're really pleased."

In the double sculls, veteran Wells gained some revenge over the Australian double scull who won Olympic gold in Beijing while he had to settle for bronze.

He and new partner Bateman were two-and-a-half lengths clear of David Crawshay and Scott Brennan, who have only recently reformed, with their eyes on a second Olympic title.

Wells acknowledged the Aussies will improve, saying: "They've been out for two years but we wanted to say, 'you'll have to get past us if you want to get back to the top'."

Because of its location on the river Thames, Henley features side-by-side racing with crowds right next to the action, rather than the six-lane events that now make up the international calendar.

In his first season back in action since winning gold the GB four in Beijing, Welshman Tom James, who has returned to that boat this year, feels the Henley atmosphere gave his crew an insight into how the Olympic regatta will feel.

"We talked about the fact we won't have many opportunities with this level of expectation from a home crowd," he told BBC Sport.

"Between now and the Olympics we'll do a lot of racing abroad in some small, private venues.

"The pressure from the start here is similar to how it will be in London."