Four Northern Ireland rowers named in Great Britain squad for European Championships

Rebecca Shorten (centre) won the pairs event with partner Rowan McKellar at the recent Great Olympic Olympic trials
Rebecca Shorten (centre) is one of four Northern Ireland rowers selected

Four Northern Ireland rowers have been named in the Great Britain squad for the upcoming European Championships in Italy.

Rebecca Shorten, Holly Nixon, Hannah Scott and Rebecca Edwards have been selected for the competition, which takes place in Varese from 9-11 April.

They will have a chance to stake their claim for places at the Tokyo Olympics.

This is the first competition for GB since the 2019 World Championships, a gap of almost 20 months.

With no form guide, the results from the regatta will be scrutinised closely.

Shorten has been moved from the women's eight into a strong looking four alongside Rio 2016 silver medallist Karen Bennett, Harriett Taylor and Rowan McKellar. This event returns to the Olympic programme for the first time since 1992 in Barcelona, its lone appearance at the Games.

The quartet were part of the women's eight that were a disappointing fifth in the World final in 2019 and among those replacing them in the bigger boat is Edwards from Aughnacloy in county Tyrone.

The 27 year-old made her debut for Great Britain at the third World Cup in Rotterdam two years ago in a second GB eight that finished seventh overall. Lockdown restricted any further appearances for Edwards last year but now she has the chance to challenge for a regular place.

Twenty-one-year-old Scott had Paris 2024 on her mind 12 months ago as she studied at Princeton University, where she is a member of their highly-successful collegiate rowing programme.

However ,when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Scott was allowed to return home to Coleraine and continue her studies online before moving to Caversham in the autumn when she received an invite to train with the GB Olympic squad.

Already a World double-silver medal winner for GB at under-23 level, Scott starts the season in the women's quad sculls alongside Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne, Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne and Lucy Glover.

One of the few boats GB has still to qualify for the Olympics is the women's double sculls and Nixon returns from long-term illness for the first time since winning a world championship bronze in 2017 to partner Saskia Budgett.

The final qualifying regatta for the Tokyo Games takes place in Lucerne in May.

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