Katherine Grainger returns for GB at European Championships

By Richard WintonBBC Sport
European Rowing Championships: Katherine Grainger returns

Katherine Grainger will return to international competition at the European Rowing Championships in the same boat she won 2012 Olympic gold.

The 39-year-old Scot took two years off from the sport after winning the double sculls with Anna Watkins in London.

She returned to training in September and has been paired with Vicky Thornley, who beat her in the single scull final at the GB trials in April.

A 50-strong team has been named for the event in Poznan, Poland on 29-31 May.

The strongest medal contenders are the established women's pair of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning.

They are the Olympic and world champions, while Glover added the European crown last year in Belgrade alongside Polly Swann while Stanning was sidelined by fatigue.

"We anticipate a tough field this year but the aim to is win without losing sight of next summer in Rio," Glover said.

Helen Glover and Polly Swann
Helen Glover and Polly Swann won a gold medal at the 2014 European Championships in Belgrade

Qualification for next summer's Olympics in Brazil will be decided by the results of September's World Championships in France.

With that in mind, Britain's strongest male rowers will begin the season in Poznan racing in the eight.

Five of last year's winning crew are burnished by the addition of Mohamed Sbihi, Alex Gregory and George Nash, who all won World Championship gold in the four last year.

The fourth member of that boat, Andy Triggs Hodge, is likely to miss the entire season because of illness, while Constantine Louloudis, who stroked Oxford to his fourth Boat Race win in five years in April, has relinquished his seat in the eight as he is sitting his final exams.

Swann is also absent from the team as she continues her rehabilitation from injury.

Great Britain topped the medal table in Belgrade last year, with golds in the men's four and women's pair among their eight podium places.

Women open

Pair - Helen Glover, Heather Stanning

Eight - Katie Greves, Olivia Carnegie-Brown, Lucinda Gooderham, Donna Etiebet, Jessica Eddie, Louisa Reeve, Rosamund Bradbury, Zoe Lee, Zoe de Toledo (cox)

Single scull - Frances Houghton

Double scull - Katherine Grainger, Victoria Thornley

Quadruple scull - Melanie Wilson, Kristina Stiller, Beth Rodford, Jessica Leyden

Men open

Pair - James Foad, Matthew Langridge

Four - Nathaniel O'Donnell, Alan Sinclair, Tom Ransley, Scott Durant

Eight - Matthew Gortel, Stewart Innes, Pete Reed, Paul Bennett, Mohamed Sbihi, Alex Gregory, George Nash, Will Satch, Phelan Hill (cox)

Single scull - Angus Groom

Double scull - John Collins, Jonathan Walton

Quadruple scull - Graeme Thomas, Sam Townsend, Charles Cousins, Peter Lambert

Women lightweight

Single scull - Imogen Walsh

Double scull - Kat Copeland, Charlotte Taylor

Men lightweight

Pair - Jonathan Clegg, Pete Chambers

Four - Sam Scrimgeour, Joel Cassells, Mark Aldred, Chris Bartley

Single scull - Zak Lee-Green

Double scull - Richard Chambers, William Fletcher