GB rowing trials: Hodge and Reed win at Eton Dorney

By Lawrence BarrettoBBC Sport at Eton Dorney

Andy Triggs Hodge and Pete Reed defended their men's pair title with an impressive display in the British trials at Eton Dorney on Sunday.

The Olympic gold medallists beat Alex Partridge and Alex Gregory, with world under-23 champions George Nash and Constantine Louloudis third.

"It was a very strong field but we weren't in any doubt about what the result would be," Reed told BBC Sport.

Katherine Grainger beat double sculls partner Anna Watkins in the singles.

World bronze medallist Alan Campbell won his eighth title in the men's equivalent.

Rowers competed against each other individually or in pairs, giving selectors a vital indicator before the World Cup squad is named on 4 April. Three World Cup races then follow before the Olympic squad is announced on 6 June.

Prior to the World Cup squad announcement, "crew testing" will take place as selectors take what they have learned from the trials and begin to put names on seats in specific boats.

Hodge and Reed, who were part of the men's four that won gold in Beijing, arrived at Dorney Lake as favourites to defend their title.

The duo took the lead from the 500m mark in the 2,000m race to power home in six minutes 26.43 seconds, with Partridge and Gregory three seconds behind.

Men's head coach Jurgen Grobler must now decide whether to move Hodge and Reed back into the men's four, the event in which they won gold in Beijing.

As a result, two of the reigning world champion quartet - Gregory, Tom James, Ric Egington and Matt Langridge - could miss out.

When asked whether he thought Hodge and himself had done enough to be placed in the men's four, Reed said: "I think so, but we have to wait until the [World Cup] announcement next month."

Hodge added: "It was a really good race. You can see from today that we've maintained mine and Pete's position at the head of the team.

"This is the strongest heavyweight men's team that Jurgen has ever sent to the Olympics, so to be leading is really special."

Greg Searle, the 39-year-old Olympic gold medallist from 1992 who was racing with Tom Ransley in a new partnership, finished sixth out of six in the men's pair, but by reaching the final put himself in with a shout of making Grobler's squad for London.

"I hope I've done enough to prove I can be in it," Searle said. "It was a massively important race for me and Tom as we came together quite late, so to imagine we could beat really established pairs would be dangerous.

"But to get in among it and get in the final was important."

Grainger, who went undefeated last year in winning her second double scull world title with Anna Watkins, beat her crew-mate in the single scull final to win her 10th national title.

The three-time Olympic silver medallist reversed last year's defeat by Watkins with a powerful performance from the off, taking the lead at 500m and never looking back.

"I'm really pleased with the way I'm sculling," Grainger told BBC Sport. "When I lost last year, there was a little bit of a sense of 'oh, has Katherine had her day' type of chat, so it's very nice to say 'no' to that."

Northern Ireland rower Campbell, who is being considered for a seat in the double, delivered a blistering performance to win the men's single for the eighth successive year, finishing four lengths clear of Matt Wells.

Heather Stanning and Helen Glover, the world silver medallists in 2010 and 2011, coasted to victory in the women's equivalent competition, with Jess Eddie and Louisa Reeve second.

David Tanner, GB Rowing's performance director, said: "We've had some outstanding and very close racing today. That tells us that the depth in the squad is really, really strong."

And Grobler, coach at Team GB since 1992, was quick to share Tanner's sentiments.

"I am very proud of the guys," said the German, who has coached gold medallists at every Olympics since 1972.

"They are wonderful guys. It's the best group I can remember in the years I have been in Britain."

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