2016 - Brandenburg Rowing: European Championships


2016 - Brandenburg

John Inverdale presents coverage of the finals at the European Rowing Championships in Brandenburg, Germany. Great Britain topped the medal table last year with 10 medals.


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The British are coming, the British are coming! Every year it feels

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different, it always feels a little different. Just glorious this

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morning. The fastest and strongest, to see them compete under one

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banner, it feels phenomenal. It is really special pressure, and it is

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fun to be apart of. Olympic champions and ask one more question.

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I know I can do it if I bring my best. What we're seeing right now is

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a dream come true. The next four months are very important. Let's

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crush it. 89 days until the Rio Olympics,

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which sounds like a moving title, but the big question is, who is

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going to be playing the starring roles? The European champion chips

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earlier today in Brandenburg were the first big tests of this Olympic

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year. Good afternoon. We will share of this glorious lunchtime in the

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coverage of the talisman of so many British Olympic teams, Sir Steve

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Redgrave. For rowers in particular, the Olympic year takes things to

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another level. It does. It is the whole process of the last four

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years, gearing up to this year. The World Championships are extremely

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important but they are stepping stones towards the Olympic Games.

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European Championships, the finals today, that is another stepping

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stone. An important event in its own right but it is a stepping stone.

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And we are three months out from the games. Do people know who is in

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which boat and who is going or is there a bit of boxing to be done?

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Most people will know. If their boat performs well enough today and in

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three weeks' time, they know that they will be in that category. The

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way the British team is, because we are so strong in depth, they are

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testing each other all the time, so you know you're standing. Near

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enough, to a person, you know which boat you will be in. Unless you do

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not perform today, and there are a few questions, the women's double

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should they go and try to strengthen the women's eight, or should they

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stay there are? We want a good result from them, or a bad result,

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not a little result. Nothing indeterminate. Talking about

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performance levels, the conditions, you do not want to offer excuses but

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it is worth saying that the conditions were very difficult in

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Germany today and the water, as competition went on, got choppier.

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How does that impact elite athletes? If you are an experienced crew,

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especially in the smaller boats, and you have been together for a long

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time, you have probably raced in those conditions before. You have an

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advantage from that point of view. If you are a new combination, then

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you are not quite sure. You have done some training and you are very

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fit and strong enough to be in that category, but when the boat is

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tossing and turning, that is when it opens up. And full lot of the crowd

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were caught Brandenburg today. We will show you some interesting races

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over the next hour. Over these long months of training in the winter,

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the big question for Great Britain's head coach was which was going to be

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his banker vote delete Matt boat, essentially the boat he thought was

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going to go to real? And so often he plucked for the coxless four. We

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have died in style, Great Britain the Olympic champions. I have been

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involved in three events, and this is a really impressive, strong men's

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team. Jurgen has done a great job. It is good to be part of this team.

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A lot of the competition comes from Europe in the Olympics, so if we can

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put in a good marker straightaway, that will be the best start we can

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do. The last thing we want to do was get ahead of ourselves. We want to

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make sure we grow as a unit, and we want to have fun as well. I am a

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newcomer to the boat so sometimes I feel weary of saying things, but the

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three of them have done the job already at the World Championships.

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On the other hand, an Olympic year is always different and they will

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know that they cannot rest on their laurels. They have to carry on

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getting better. Since Sydney there has always been at least one person

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in the coxless four from the previous Olympics and this time I

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will be that one person. So the resolvable pressure. But then that

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disappears into all the other pressures that are involved, because

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we need to win a gold medal, because we have done it before in the

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Olympics before this, and we need to win Jurgen Grobler a gold medal. We

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are the lead boat and the implicit expectation is that we win gold. I

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don't care how we do in other races, we need to win gold at the Rio

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Olympics. We know with Jurgen that he thinks he has something special

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here. This could be the best team that GB Rowing has ever had.

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Sometimes the boat really works. This one does and it flows and feels

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good straightaway. I am excited to see what this group can do. I have

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seen what they have done behind closed doors, even in this little

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stint. We're ready for the next four months. Well, George Nash, here he

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is, the fourth member of Britain's 18. One of the most eagerly awaited

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races, the finals here of the 2016 European Rowing Championships is

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under way. The men's heavyweight coxless four. France in one, Belarus

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and two, Great Britain and three. All eyes on them. Russia in four,

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Greece in five. Denmark closest to us in number six. And the Danes are

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lightweight true crew, stepping up for this regatta. -- lightweight

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crew. No rush for them to get back down to the lightweight category,

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but meanwhile, in the middle, Russia easing by. Alex Gregory, and Moe

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Sbihi. This is Jurgen format. ' Sbihi. This is Jurgenformat. '

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format. It is. Actually, you can see by the surgeon of the lens, the

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Brits are in lane three. -- the surging of the lanes. They have a

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strong rhythm. If they are going to be fast, they will not be the

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fastest crew. They are going to nail it to the middle. They need to take

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the race from the scruff of its neck. By the time they get down

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here, in six minutes time, they will be leading by a fairway. Coming up

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to 500 metres. Both of the crew a length ahead of the rest of the

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field. We're looking at Alex Gregory, and coming down, Moe Sbihi,

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one of the most outstanding athletes in the British team. George Nash in

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three, backing up this. A big decision for Jurgen to take these

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guys out of the world championship winning eight last year and put them

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into a four. It was a big decision but if you are winning the World

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Championships, by two feet in the men's eight, and the year before you

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won the four by two lengths, it is not that big a gamble. The reality

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is that one gold is worth 1000 silver. If you put your best

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athletes in the boat, and you back your team to win the eighth, then

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you can see in the middle of the race, when it is tough, how these

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teams dominate the conditions. And these could be the strongest guys,

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the strongest British four that we have seen. This is the best four

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athletes in any of the British fours right from 2000. Moe Sbihi, he beat

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the 2000 metre record, and also my 5000 metre record this year. He is

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the best physical specimen in British rowing history, backed up by

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three of the other best. At the halfway mark, we would expect a big

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push from the British crew, led by Stanley Lewis, George Nash at three,

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Moe Sbihi and Gregory at the barrel. -- the bow. You can see the bowside

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being caught. Every time you get stuck in the water, it takes off

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momentum. Nevertheless, three quarters of a length out. After they

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deal with this verse 500, it is all about moving on, really nailing it

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hard, so that you put yourself in the best possible position for the

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last quarter. Great Britain doing that, and Stan Lulu this, he is

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leading them on. Watching Belarus come back here. Should they be

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nervous at this stage? Definitely not. They are dominating so well.

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These guys want to race. They do not want to just romp away with it. They

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want to be tested and proven selves. And actually, if I was Jurgen I

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would want to be testing them in the third quarter of the race. Looking

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at our right, Jurgen Grobler has got his stopwatch out. He has been

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sitting down for the first 1000 and he is now watching a screen in front

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of us. Nervously watching his boys as he always does at this stage. An

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important overlap. He is not nervous, you will be frustrated that

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they have not broken clear because they are more than three quarters of

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a length forward. He will be thinking, he want be thinking he is

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worried they are losing, you will just be thinking he wants them to

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win by more. Into the last quarter now. 400 metres remaining. The

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British group have a length of clear water. As the conditions slightly

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settle and the timing is smart, they are sharp. Late number three,

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slicing through the water. They are not a length of clear water up, they

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are length up. This is more than you need to win by. But not as much as

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Jurgen will want them to win by. A chasing field, led by Belarus in the

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late number two. The Russians also in it. But the race is on behind the

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British crew for silver. At this stage, with about 175, hard to see

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any of the cruise coming back to attack the British crew. Belarus are

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making a good effort. The Brits have a good rhythm. Inside 100 metres.

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Stanley Hollis, Gregory in the bow seat. -- Stan Lulu this. Holding on

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for the victory. It is working, and Great Britain are the European

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champions in the men's heavyweight coxless four. It should've been

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more. Jurgen Klopp would want more but a win is a win at time. -- at

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this time. A great win, constant time, how were the conditions? The

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worst conditions I have raced over two kilometres. This is totally

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open, really bouncy. You build up to a race, and you expected to be

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streamlined but it was a real scrap. George, you have raced in the

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Olympics and others. Where would you say you are in terms of preparations

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for the Olympics? Right at the beginning, really. We have been in

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the boat for about a month and a half. It is good to get the first

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race out of the way, and we probably have a lot of things to work on

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after that. Looking forward, really. Do you get a better idea of what you

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are going to be by the end of the month, Moe? Of course. The World Cup

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will be our main competition. And we will be able to check where we are

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against the rest of the field. Today was a good marker for us as a

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confidence boost. A win is a win, even if the rowing was not pretty.

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We struggled, but we survived. You are the only guy here who has won a

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gold here. Are you an course to do the same with these guys? I have

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been in the coxless four for a number of years and this is feeling

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good. This is a good boat. I am excited about what lies ahead,

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finding out with the rest of the field, over the next couple of World

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Cups. It is an exciting time. Listening to the commentary there,

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James Cracknell was disgruntled. Is it being churlish to say that was

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not the most impressive performance, given that they won it? A little bit

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of what we said earlier. They have not been together that long. They

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have done a lot of training within the group but they have not been in

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that format for long. James is looking at the calibre of

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opposition. You have the Italians, the world champions, a bit of a

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surprise to win last year. Obviously not racing here at all. And then the

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Australians behind them. He is seeing other cruise coming in, but

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the fact is that the Russians, as a team, are performing very strongly

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right the way through. Sometimes they do early season, but don't

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underestimate that. To win that relatively comfortable at, I would

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say that they are well on track. And to hear Stan Louloudis say it was

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the worst conditions he had ever rode him, was that just hyperbole in

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the aftermath of the race? He said it was the worst conditions of

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rowing in a 2000 metre course. It is an open course. Training for boat

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races, he would have experienced worse but not much worse.

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The culmination and the Regatta and our programme will be the men's

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eight. An extraordinary finale. Before that, the Men's Pair from

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earlier today. Serbia just leading, the British pushing an hard against

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them in second place. The Netherlands who led into the start

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of the second 500 coming off a bit of pace in this third five. The

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third 500 position, position for your final push. Still a long way

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out, but it is about consolidating everything, giving yourself the

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opportunity to move from a strong position, rather than fighting back

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into it. A lot of the race in the first 500 is where it is decided.

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That is where the fitness comes in. Having a good second half of the

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race is where the hard miles count. The best thing about the British

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team is because there is such strength in depth, there is such

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competition in training that they would have had a hard winter racing

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each other every day. Not only racing each other, the people in

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your team, but the people who are going to be after the same seat.

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They had an intense period from August through to now, where they

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are racing each other every day in training, to try and get a seat.

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They will be able to tough it out in the second half. The Serbians

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continue to lead, as we come to the three quarters mark. 1500 metres

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down, now 500 metres to go. Great Britain in the silver medal position

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behind Serbia. Slipped back slightly from the halfway mark. Now it is

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about ten, ten, ten, counting them in. Keeping the length. The Brits

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can do this, absolutely. They have a good overlap but it is about keeping

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it clean and moving every stroke, moving quickly off the catch. Serbia

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still holding, pushing on, holding everything Great Britain are pushing

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at them. The British crew up to 37 strokes a minute, matching Serbia

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with 37 as well. The Serbians have raised it well, they went off hard,

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a dodgy second 500 and I thought they overcook tip. Now they have

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responded again. The last 250 is not just flat out. There is a long way

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to go yet. The Brits, the finish will come down to how much they have

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left in the tank. That is where the hard training comes in. It looks

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like they have done enough over the winter. This is it, this is it.

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Sinclair and Stewart Innes, starting to move. The Czech Republic are

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coming back as well. We have five boats fighting out for the gold

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medal. It is about who can be clean, and the stake in these conditions

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will be the difference between first or third. One last push, the British

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crew in lane three. The Hungarian 's have gone up on their range. The

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British have got to respond here. Stroke for stroke to the line, it's

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going to be close. It is going to be Hungary. They were just caught on

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the line. The British will be disappointed with that, ten strokes

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out it was Great Britain but on the line the medals go to Hungary, and

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rightly so. Stewart Innes punches the water. That is what I said, if

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they make a mistake it will cost them. They hit the water at about

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ten strokes out from the line which gave the Hungarian is the extra

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couple of feet they needed. It is about fitness, commitment and also

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not making a mistake in these conditions. It is not perfect, but

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they have to make the best of it. Just pipped on the line, is that the

:19:56.:20:00.

glass half full or half empty? Empty, definitely. We came here to

:20:01.:20:05.

win. I think we were probably the fastest crew but on the day the

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conditions got the better of us a bit. The crosswind, mentally it

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ruined us all the way down. The boat in the Chevron from the wind side,

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and the Serbians took it to the finish line. Gutted. So often we

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hear from rowers who are at disappointed at not winning races

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and we will reflect on their performance in a moment or so, after

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we have seen the Women's Pair, the most dominant group in this British

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team at the moment, Helen Glover and Heather Stanning. Nobody can beat

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them. Two in a row in the European Championships now. Helen Glover and

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Heather Stanning! They are champions and it couldn't go to more worthy

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winners! Great Britain go into the Olympic

:21:09.:21:21.

year holding all major international titles. Here they are defending,

:21:22.:21:25.

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, undefeated throughout. They are in

:21:26.:21:36.

lane number three. Germany in two, Russia in four, Denmark in five and

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France in six. They won last year by two lengths clear of the field,

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demolished the field in emphatic fashion. On that day they had water

:21:47.:21:51.

conditions a lot better than today. This will be a real test for them, a

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test of how good they really are performing in these conditions.

:21:57.:21:59.

Already they are just starting, the barrels of the British crew, Helen

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Glover and Heather Stanning easing out into the breeze. I love the way

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you say easing out. The panning shot, all six crews in the picture,

:22:11.:22:19.

why they are leading is they are attacking the conditions, dominating

:22:20.:22:22.

the conditions are not letting the conditions dominate them. You can

:22:23.:22:26.

see how that approach makes a massive difference to your boat

:22:27.:22:33.

speed. This water is going around everywhere. If you let that annoy

:22:34.:22:39.

you, frustrated, and it's not going to be comfortable, if you think I am

:22:40.:22:43.

going to power my way through this, it's seven minutes, it can dominate

:22:44.:22:47.

everyone else but it will not dominate our boat, you find yourself

:22:48.:22:48.

in a very different position. Denmark won the other competition.

:22:49.:23:01.

Our girls are just giving it some stick and saying, right, you can

:23:02.:23:04.

take me on but I'm going to get through this and get a medal round

:23:05.:23:08.

my neck. One thing we have to watch out for, the German pair have had

:23:09.:23:14.

perhaps the better of the first 500 in terms of conditions. While the

:23:15.:23:20.

British crew continue, watch how the blades come out and there is a lot

:23:21.:23:24.

of slapping from the British crew, but Germany coping a lot better.

:23:25.:23:28.

Almost coming up level, putting on the pressure, the first time in a

:23:29.:23:32.

while now that Helen Glover and Heather Stanning have been put under

:23:33.:23:36.

this kind of pressure at this point in the race. If you look at the

:23:37.:23:39.

shoulders of Heather Stanning on the left of the picture, incredibly

:23:40.:23:47.

relaxed, down, not up near her ears, no tension. The Germans still look a

:23:48.:23:53.

bit more tense. A tense muscle uses energy in a relaxed one doesn't. I

:23:54.:23:58.

think over the distance you will see them inch out. They have taken the

:23:59.:24:03.

aggression in the first 500 metres and now they can relax and will just

:24:04.:24:08.

shift away. As you were talking, it looks like Germany were coming right

:24:09.:24:13.

off it. A great first 500 metres, right on the tail and the shoulders

:24:14.:24:17.

of the British crew. But the class and form of glove and stunning

:24:18.:24:22.

opening up, coming into their rhythm. Clear water. -- Helen Glover

:24:23.:24:27.

and Heather Stanning. They are going to control this race here. 100

:24:28.:24:33.

metres out from the line, Great Britain heads up looking powerful

:24:34.:24:37.

and strong. This is the way you want to open your season's account. You

:24:38.:24:42.

are leading every other nation, no doubt as to who the dominant force

:24:43.:24:47.

this year is going to be. I think them up won the other heat and went

:24:48.:24:50.

straight to the final, they are not even on the podium. They are not

:24:51.:24:57.

only fast but consistently fast. 89 days until the Olympic Games in Rio

:24:58.:25:00.

and this is not a bad statement to be making from Great Britain's Helen

:25:01.:25:06.

Glover and Heather Stanning. Job well done. Of the races remaining

:25:07.:25:11.

that is a big tip, a big statement. Who is out there to beat them in the

:25:12.:25:16.

early stages? Great Britain the European champions yet again. The

:25:17.:25:18.

crucial thing was that they cross the line European champions, didn't

:25:19.:25:25.

punch the air or celebrate. This is one small box ticked on the way to

:25:26.:25:29.

the ultimate goal. They have their heads in the right place and they

:25:30.:25:33.

are growing well. Was that as tough as it looked, it was a dominant

:25:34.:25:39.

performance but conditions looked tough? Physically you can't really

:25:40.:25:41.

lay it all out there because really it is a very technical row. Looking

:25:42.:25:47.

after the boat is important. In one sense we could go out and again and

:25:48.:25:51.

in another sense we would want to because it is not fun. Who is it

:25:52.:25:57.

most difficult for? Probably for the newest crews. Probably Helen because

:25:58.:26:03.

it is against! I had the easy job because the wind blowing across

:26:04.:26:08.

across that lane. We are experienced but these are conditions we haven't

:26:09.:26:13.

raced on before. It was a chance for a different set of conditions.

:26:14.:26:17.

Defending champions now, but what does this mean in terms of your

:26:18.:26:21.

preparations for Rio? Really good preparation, because we know our

:26:22.:26:26.

main condition is outside Europe. In one sense we thought, what can we

:26:27.:26:31.

gain from this? To experience new conditions that could be like Rio is

:26:32.:26:37.

a really huge thing that we have come out and gained. We don't feel

:26:38.:26:41.

like we have left the country, lost or we can's training to race not our

:26:42.:26:44.

main competition. We feel like that is something that has upscaled us,

:26:45.:26:50.

something we didn't have before. I think it will be useful in the long

:26:51.:26:56.

runs. Interesting point Helen made. If we took about the race itself,

:26:57.:26:59.

normally when we show highlights we join it with 500 to go, but we

:27:00.:27:03.

showed the start of the race because it was the first time for a while

:27:04.:27:07.

that another crew have thrown the gauntlet down to them in the first

:27:08.:27:10.

500 metres and said, this is what we've got. But after that it was

:27:11.:27:14.

plain sailing. Everyone was talking about the Americans last year,

:27:15.:27:20.

putting the two girls out of the American eight into the pair, saying

:27:21.:27:23.

this is our best Americans. This is what they did. They pushed them very

:27:24.:27:28.

hard in the first half. Once they got through 1000 metres, they just

:27:29.:27:32.

edged away and the same story. If you are racing somebody who is as

:27:33.:27:35.

dominant as that, what you do question I do hold back and try to

:27:36.:27:39.

be strong at the end question might know, because you will lose. The

:27:40.:27:42.

only way you can do it is by surprise in them and trying to be up

:27:43.:27:46.

there in the first half, especially when you have rough, difficult

:27:47.:27:50.

conditions. Get up there and throw them off their stride. That may give

:27:51.:27:54.

you a chance of beating them. The verdict at the end really showed

:27:55.:27:59.

that they are still a very class act. They'd talked about the

:28:00.:28:06.

upskilling, conditions they hadn't raced in before, good to have done

:28:07.:28:11.

it? Rio is quite a big lake, almost the shape of a brute. Where you

:28:12.:28:16.

start is very close to the bank, as you go out, you go out into the

:28:17.:28:21.

middle of the lake. -- the shape of a boot. We could have conditions

:28:22.:28:25.

like that in Rio, it is good to have been through it and feel what it is

:28:26.:28:30.

like. Good stuff, let's move onto a look at the lightweight team in

:28:31.:28:34.

general, who over the general scheme of things perhaps not as competitive

:28:35.:28:38.

as the Great Britain management would like. One particular

:28:39.:28:44.

disappointment took place yesterday where Kat Copeland, who was a gold

:28:45.:28:47.

medallist in 2012, and Charlotte Taylor failed to make it through to

:28:48.:28:51.

their final, which left them both absolutely devastated. Charlotte on

:28:52.:28:55.

the left, they finished second this morning. Lots of non-Olympic races

:28:56.:28:59.

earlier today, when conditions were not that bad. Clegg and scrimmage

:29:00.:29:07.

won the Men's Pair in style. You could see the water was almost calm,

:29:08.:29:10.

compared to what happened later on. After that, lane six was not the

:29:11.:29:16.

draw you wanted. Well done to Jamie Kirkwood, who battled well against

:29:17.:29:22.

the elements and only just missed out on a medal. About to appear on

:29:23.:29:26.

your screen now at the bottom, but finishing in fourth place was Imogen

:29:27.:29:31.

Walsh tailed off last in the women's singles. Let's stay with races who

:29:32.:29:36.

are going to be competed for in the medals at Rio. The men's lightweight

:29:37.:29:40.

four, always competitive and Great Britain always among the medals.

:29:41.:29:47.

1000 metres, halfway mark in the men's lightweight coxless four.

:29:48.:29:53.

Great Britain leading from the champions. Switzerland in second

:29:54.:29:58.

race, Germany currently in bronze. Now as you move into the third 500

:29:59.:30:04.

metres we will look to see the crews jostle around about. I think the

:30:05.:30:11.

Swiss. To press the British. This is where the last 18 months- two years,

:30:12.:30:15.

they have shown to be strong. Especially when the conditions get

:30:16.:30:19.

bad, if you are stronger in this part of the race it is a double

:30:20.:30:23.

whammy. You are good anyway and it is rough, so any improvement with

:30:24.:30:29.

your boat is going to be doubled. In fact, you can see, they have come

:30:30.:30:32.

through. The world champion Switzerland have come through. Great

:30:33.:30:37.

Britain, one leading to the halfway mark on the far side. Germany up to

:30:38.:30:45.

first. The Netherlands in second. Spain at five and Czech Republic in

:30:46.:30:49.

sixth, currently not challenging the scorecard here.

:30:50.:30:56.

And in, and a lead and you get in these conditions, it is hard to come

:30:57.:31:05.

back. That is what we're going to see. It is going to test the

:31:06.:31:10.

character of the Brits, and also how robust in their rhythm is. At the

:31:11.:31:14.

moment, they are found wanting, because the Swiss have not only gone

:31:15.:31:18.

through them, but have taken a significant lead, a length already

:31:19.:31:26.

and about 400 metres. A very impressive third 500 metres. Three

:31:27.:31:31.

quarters of a length. They have taken over a length in terms of

:31:32.:31:34.

movement, the Swiss, from the British. Time very well. Great

:31:35.:31:41.

Britain almost two seconds down. It is about responding and being aware

:31:42.:31:46.

that Germany will be pushing on as the Netherlands starts to come back

:31:47.:31:52.

in lane number two. The four crews on your screen, stretched out.

:31:53.:31:56.

Switzerland looking very strong here. Chambers in the stroke seat of

:31:57.:32:06.

the British four, racked up by Chris Bartley, Mark Aldred and Jono Clegg.

:32:07.:32:19.

Continuing to move away, the most important thing for the British crew

:32:20.:32:22.

is that they are moving away from Germany in Lane number one. 250

:32:23.:32:33.

metres remain. But the disappointing thing from the perspective of the

:32:34.:32:37.

Brits, yes, they are ahead of Germany, but there is a land now

:32:38.:32:41.

between them and the Swiss. But you also have the New Zealanders, the

:32:42.:32:45.

Americans, the Australians and the Canadians to come into this field.

:32:46.:32:51.

You do not want to have that gap between first and second, if you are

:32:52.:32:54.

European, because there are global competitors to come in. Less than

:32:55.:32:59.

ten strokes, and the British crew are coming back once again. Just a

:33:00.:33:07.

little on the world champions, but Switzerland squeeze it to the line.

:33:08.:33:13.

Making it two in a row for the European title. The race on the far

:33:14.:33:18.

side for the bronze goes to Germany. Just waiting for confirmation of

:33:19.:33:25.

that. Out front, looking superb as they did last year, Switzerland, the

:33:26.:33:28.

world champions and now two-time European champions. Perhaps that was

:33:29.:33:33.

the best that the British crew could have hoped for but overall, what was

:33:34.:33:38.

your take on the quality of the lightweight team? Obviously, the

:33:39.:33:45.

lightweight win, a bit of a surprise not being in the final. They should

:33:46.:33:49.

be up there, and there is a big question mark over that. The

:33:50.:33:52.

lightweight four are going to be pretty satisfied with that. They

:33:53.:33:56.

were ninth last year and they went off the pace, so they are back in

:33:57.:33:59.

the frame. And the lightweight men's double has had an injury, they have

:34:00.:34:04.

been out for a while but this should be back in three weeks' time. OK.

:34:05.:34:09.

We're going to show you the best of the rest now, but let me mark your

:34:10.:34:14.

card for the next half-hour. The women's race in particular is

:34:15.:34:17.

fantastic. Before that, let's see what has happened with some of the

:34:18.:34:22.

other crews on the water. First up, let's focus on the women's quad. It

:34:23.:34:27.

was a race they will probably want to forget because they finished

:34:28.:34:32.

fifth and caught a crab just before the halfway mark. Effectively, that

:34:33.:34:36.

could to their goose. The men's quad, they finished fifth in a race

:34:37.:34:43.

won by Estonia after the overhauled the Russian crew. In the lightweight

:34:44.:34:49.

men's double, what a fantastic result for Gary and Paul O'Donovan.

:34:50.:34:54.

The Norwegians looked certain to win until they came through to take the

:34:55.:35:01.

gold medal. In the men's double, Johnnie Walker and John Collins

:35:02.:35:07.

found the competition too hard to handle, finishing sixth behind the

:35:08.:35:11.

Croatians. Katherine Grainger was part of our commentary team at BBC

:35:12.:35:16.

television for two years after London 2012. She was agonising,

:35:17.:35:21.

would she go to the Rio Olympics with the microphone or a paddle? Now

:35:22.:35:24.

the clock is ticking to see whether or not that was the right call. What

:35:25.:35:36.

we are seeing right now is that dreams do come true. This year is

:35:37.:35:40.

better than 2012 in every sense. 2012 made such a massive impression

:35:41.:35:44.

on all of us, those of us who experienced it, watched it or took

:35:45.:35:48.

part, the memories are very vivid. In a way, it is right that it is

:35:49.:35:52.

different. I did not want to come back and try to recreate it all over

:35:53.:35:56.

again. It was never going to be the same. It is definitely harder. But I

:35:57.:36:01.

think that it is healthy and refreshing and good that it feels so

:36:02.:36:06.

different. Anna and I in 2012, we had a three-year run of winning

:36:07.:36:10.

every single race we did from the first to the last. Vicky and I have

:36:11.:36:15.

not won any. It is dramatically different. We have meddled and made

:36:16.:36:21.

of the podium, in a competitive event. When Vicky and I raced last

:36:22.:36:25.

summer, we had to learn quickly. From the first race, it was that

:36:26.:36:32.

level of competitive experience. Tactical, astute racing, where split

:36:33.:36:37.

seconds decided the results. 1500 metres from the end of the race, we

:36:38.:36:41.

were in a medal position but we ran out of steam. So unfortunate. Down

:36:42.:36:46.

in sixth position. Any new combination, you go through highs

:36:47.:36:50.

and lows together. You're trying to find your feet and compete against

:36:51.:36:54.

the best of the world at the same time. It is great to get in a boat

:36:55.:36:58.

with someone who is fresh and ambitious and has experience but has

:36:59.:37:01.

not experienced everything, wanting to learn and drive all the time.

:37:02.:37:05.

That was good for me because I had to feel the same hunger and drive.

:37:06.:37:11.

Honestly, I can say that I have no regrets about coming back. I have

:37:12.:37:15.

had days where I wondered why I am doing it, but I do not want to do it

:37:16.:37:19.

because I am sentimental, I am doing it because I still believe I can do

:37:20.:37:24.

it well. That is why I am doing it and why I am still competitive about

:37:25.:37:32.

it. Again, another quick start. A slow one from the Netherlands in

:37:33.:37:36.

Lane five. They are easing off, this is the final of the women's double

:37:37.:37:43.

sculls. The Czech Republic in two. Great Britain, with Katherine

:37:44.:37:50.

Grainger and Victoria Thornley. Greece, the world single medallists,

:37:51.:37:55.

did not qualify for the final. -- silver medallists. But the world

:37:56.:37:59.

champions New Zealand. Great Britain disappointed with a sixth-place

:38:00.:38:03.

finish at the world championships year, they come into this final as

:38:04.:38:07.

the current European bronze medallists. Across all of this,

:38:08.:38:15.

undoubtedly a crew with the pedigree of Katherine Grainger, they really

:38:16.:38:19.

should be up there. But already, across the boys, Germany moving out

:38:20.:38:29.

strong. 250 metres, only 12 and a half percent of the way through the

:38:30.:38:35.

race. As I said, Catherine has the experience and mental toughness to

:38:36.:38:42.

cope with the conditions and not let a dodgy first minute gets on top of

:38:43.:38:52.

the overall race. And that is where the experience counts. But Victoria

:38:53.:38:56.

is experienced enough as well. Don't worry at the moment, if you are in

:38:57.:38:59.

this situation at halfway, then you start to worry. Again, things can

:39:00.:39:07.

turn on a dime. A couple of strokes for Julia Lier in the bow seat has

:39:08.:39:15.

missed from the German double. Great Britain really have to just maintain

:39:16.:39:20.

confidence, and a solid rhythm. Keeping the length and keeping the

:39:21.:39:25.

faith. 500 metres and it is Germany at the top of the picture, with

:39:26.:39:31.

Belarus in Lane number one. I think the faith is starting to go now. If

:39:32.:39:39.

they lose to Lithuania, in Lane six, which has not been the most favoured

:39:40.:39:43.

Lane throughout the morning, then they will struggle to see many

:39:44.:39:52.

positives from this weekend, apart from saying that these conditions

:39:53.:39:57.

are making it a bit of a lottery. But the other crews are coping

:39:58.:39:59.

better without lottery at the moment. The Russian crew, look on

:40:00.:40:05.

the right-hand side, it side, it shows it all, how the crews are

:40:06.:40:09.

responding. The Belarussian crew getting stronger and stronger. The

:40:10.:40:14.

Czech Republic continuing to push away. I think Catherine and Victoria

:40:15.:40:22.

have responded to the Lithuanians, so no matter how bad it is, they are

:40:23.:40:32.

digging in. On the far side, the crew from Belarus, about 100 metres

:40:33.:40:38.

from the line here. A little over ten strokes in normal time. The

:40:39.:40:44.

Germans responding to the home crowd, with Lier and Adams, but it

:40:45.:40:49.

is too late to get back on terms with the Belarussians. The Czech

:40:50.:40:53.

Republic, a well-deserved bronze medal. Belarus in one, Germany in

:40:54.:41:02.

two and the Czech Republic in three. Let's just watch Catherine and

:41:03.:41:04.

Victoria's reaction when they cross the line. Very close they are,

:41:05.:41:14.

almost being caught by the Lithuanians. We did the whole of

:41:15.:41:19.

that race because by the halfway point it was clear that they would

:41:20.:41:23.

not be on the podium. How do you interpret that performance? Not good

:41:24.:41:30.

enough, basically. Their first race last year was winning a bronze medal

:41:31.:41:34.

at the European Championships, which was a good results, and it seems to

:41:35.:41:39.

have gone backwards since that time. Catherine, in that interview before

:41:40.:41:42.

the race, she said she was looking forward to doing well. The Katherine

:41:43.:41:49.

Grainger of old would never have entertained anything other than

:41:50.:41:54.

winning. Is that a discernible assessment of where she is? I think

:41:55.:41:58.

that might sum it up. A different mentality to when you are

:41:59.:42:00.

consistently trying to get through to the highest level. Which she did

:42:01.:42:05.

eventually, winning many World Championships and an Olympic gold

:42:06.:42:11.

medal. Then taking some time out, two and a half years out in this

:42:12.:42:14.

sport of muscular injuries, it is tough. But the whole process is

:42:15.:42:21.

about thinking can I get back to where I was before, and if she can,

:42:22.:42:25.

that is not good enough to win gold later this year. She has to be

:42:26.:42:29.

better than she was, and that is better as a crew. So what has to be

:42:30.:42:36.

summed up is, do you look at this and say, are they going to win a

:42:37.:42:39.

medal at the Olympics? If they can win a medal at the Olympics, it is

:42:40.:42:44.

worth keeping them together. If they cannot, will they make the women's

:42:45.:42:50.

eight go faster? Probably so. And that is the big dilemma in some

:42:51.:42:54.

ways. That takes us neatly to the women's eight, because does this

:42:55.:42:59.

crew need Granger and finally? Watch this race and you might not be quite

:43:00.:43:07.

so sure. A quarter of the race gone, the crews that get into the next 500

:43:08.:43:13.

will consolidate their position. And the British crew is in seventh. The

:43:14.:43:19.

more worrying thing is that they are 3.6 seconds away from the Russians,

:43:20.:43:25.

who more than likely will fade, but the Dutch are a good crew. What is

:43:26.:43:32.

your break even, what is par? Where would you say is par? Listen, I

:43:33.:43:40.

think they should be winning it. I absolutely think they should be

:43:41.:43:44.

winning it. They don't want to come away from this with an excuse, but

:43:45.:43:49.

this, but the conditions. They are the best team out there on paper,

:43:50.:43:53.

they absolutely are. The best even those in it with the mindset is to

:43:54.:43:57.

take this on, they have plenty of time to do this. They are in third

:43:58.:44:02.

place. They have to track the Dutch and if they can keep tracking that

:44:03.:44:10.

crew, the Dutch won three weeks ago, and they were sixth at the world

:44:11.:44:15.

Championships last year. If I was the British crew, 2 degrees I would

:44:16.:44:20.

forget the Russians and I would be racing a two horse race, the

:44:21.:44:23.

Netherlands against Great Britain. I would be focusing on that and

:44:24.:44:27.

driving to the line. Part for me would be second place. From the

:44:28.:44:36.

Dutch? From the British perspective, second would be acceptable and first

:44:37.:44:43.

would be a good start. It is a nice rhythm. They need to build on that.

:44:44.:44:49.

Don't let the Romanians through, race crews ahead of you, and don't

:44:50.:44:55.

get dragged into the one behind. A little wind tunnel here. It is all

:44:56.:44:59.

coming back together. Five crews abreast. An interesting last 1000

:45:00.:45:08.

metres. Into the second half, the final of the women's eight at the

:45:09.:45:11.

European Rowing Championships. A big race for these crews, particularly

:45:12.:45:15.

the British, so disappointed in their finish last year, fourth at

:45:16.:45:21.

the world Championships. They were ahead of a crew sitting beside them.

:45:22.:45:27.

The Russians were fifth last year, Great Britain were forth. Here they

:45:28.:45:35.

are, being led by the Russians. The Dutch are coming back hard against

:45:36.:45:39.

them. They have to bring the British crew with them. In this third 500 is

:45:40.:45:44.

about taking them by surprise, use the wind tunnel, push on, drive it

:45:45.:45:48.

and drive it again. The Russians doing all right, but the Dutch still

:45:49.:45:54.

looks strong. They will be strong. The Dutch, traditionally, have...

:45:55.:46:09.

The Russians are typically fast and the Dutch come home fast. There

:46:10.:46:16.

could be a blanket with 200 and feet -- 250 to go. Lane three going

:46:17.:46:24.

through. The Dutch are going through. The British are still

:46:25.:46:28.

there. Now keep pushing on here, because we have five minutes on

:46:29.:46:35.

this, still plenty of race in this. The final, the last 500 metres of

:46:36.:46:41.

the women's eight in the 2016 European Rowing Championships. The

:46:42.:46:45.

British have 50 or 60 strokes give or take to put everything at this.

:46:46.:46:49.

They put themselves in a good position. They could have been

:46:50.:46:53.

marginally better. If they were perhaps ten feet, a little more

:46:54.:46:56.

ahead of themselves they could push hard. But the British now have got

:46:57.:47:01.

to try and outdo the Russians, they are half a length down. The Dutch

:47:02.:47:07.

have broken the Romanians. I think the Dutch are too far ahead. I think

:47:08.:47:14.

what I said before, second place, it's not perfect but it is a nice

:47:15.:47:20.

platform for them. We had a couple of bounces on the bone side of the

:47:21.:47:23.

Dutch group, that will slow them down for one stroke. Great Britain

:47:24.:47:32.

have to consolidate on that. Zoe in the cox seat driving forward. She

:47:33.:47:35.

has to say I need everything and a little bit more on top of that.

:47:36.:47:42.

Coming out of it, 250 to go. This is doable, they have 30 seconds.

:47:43.:47:48.

Absolutely, absolutely, now. Zoe and Bennett backing her. All of those

:47:49.:47:55.

girls in the middle, the experience, the power is required from you. They

:47:56.:48:05.

are coming apart, coming up level, and the British now are going to

:48:06.:48:08.

come through. Have they got enough in the tank to get that last little

:48:09.:48:16.

bit of a push into the line? They are through, they have taken the

:48:17.:48:21.

Dutch. James Cracknell, Great Britain are the European champions

:48:22.:48:25.

of 2016, thank you very much. That is how you do it in these kind of

:48:26.:48:29.

conditions, and on the line. They can no go -- now go away, the

:48:30.:48:34.

British eight, with their heads held high. It was absolutely brutal, the

:48:35.:48:39.

whole way down the course. The wind is horrific out there. There were

:48:40.:48:44.

trees blowing all over the place, the wind was in our faces,

:48:45.:48:49.

everywhere, but the best thing to do was to keep our composure, keep our

:48:50.:48:53.

heads and deliver the best race we could have done all things

:48:54.:48:59.

considered. We rode in a composed way. We wanted to get together mark

:49:00.:49:04.

this as the beginning the season. -- we rowed. This is just the

:49:05.:49:08.

beginning. Really pleased to be able to do it today as a tribute. The

:49:09.:49:20.

former coach of the lightweights team. A great honour to do it for

:49:21.:49:24.

him. We have so much more to build, this is a relatively new crew. We

:49:25.:49:27.

are looking forward to every race and hopefully go straight to the

:49:28.:49:32.

top. A great result and race. Gary didn't even know what year it was at

:49:33.:49:36.

the end! We weren't surprised by that in the studio. Two of the last

:49:37.:49:40.

races of the day, the men's eight. Over the last four years or so,

:49:41.:49:44.

especially with the men taking part in the eight and being moved out of

:49:45.:49:49.

the four, this has been a great battle between the British and

:49:50.:49:53.

German crew and we were expecting a grand finale in Germany today. We

:49:54.:49:58.

are away now with the blue-ribbon to event. It is all about the first red

:49:59.:50:07.

strokes, then 100, then 500. They are right on the edge. Now lads, you

:50:08.:50:15.

have to show it. This is where you really lay it down. Each one of them

:50:16.:50:19.

will be hurting here. There it is to the line. That ladies and gentlemen

:50:20.:50:23.

is how you race! A quick start and Great Britain in

:50:24.:50:34.

Lane number four, alongside the Olympic champions, Germany. We watch

:50:35.:50:41.

the world champions moving. Look at the conditions, this is Power rowing

:50:42.:50:45.

at its best against conditions at its absolute worst. Top of the

:50:46.:50:51.

picture. Belarus in one, Germany two, the Olympic champions in three,

:50:52.:51:00.

Great Britain in four, Poland in five and Netherlands in six.

:51:01.:51:04.

Survival of the fittest. Survival of the fittest and the strongest. I

:51:05.:51:10.

think despite the men's four Britain, the rest of that British

:51:11.:51:14.

eight is still phenomenally powerful. In these conditions I

:51:15.:51:21.

expect us to take out the Germans. Netherlands in Lane number six

:51:22.:51:25.

closest to us, already through 300 metres. Notwithstanding that breeze

:51:26.:51:35.

and headwind, all these crews taking it on after 500. The Netherlands

:51:36.:51:41.

leading. On the far side, Belarus in Lane number one. In amongst this,

:51:42.:51:46.

the world champions Great Britain and alongside them, the Green boat

:51:47.:51:51.

of the Olympic champions, Germany. The rivalry and competition resumes

:51:52.:51:57.

again here for the 2016 European Rowing Championships final. We are

:51:58.:52:01.

at 500. Look at that, into the breeze, still up 500. Netherlands,

:52:02.:52:07.

Belarus, Great Britain in bronze medal position. Germany just off it

:52:08.:52:12.

but not much in it. That looks wrong to me, the Germans are probably up

:52:13.:52:15.

in fifth position. The Dutch have done well to get out this last in

:52:16.:52:21.

Lane six. I think they will come back. The Brits, good to see the

:52:22.:52:26.

bleeding the Germans at this stage. This is where the Germans are

:52:27.:52:30.

traditionally strong, in the second 500. We will see of Britain can hold

:52:31.:52:34.

them off and then the fitness and strength over the second half, I

:52:35.:52:39.

think, will start to pay dividends. At the moment the Dutch taking out

:52:40.:52:42.

well, I can't see them holding onto this lead, though. The British crew,

:52:43.:52:51.

Andy Hodd Chuck, sitting in there, coming back from year out with

:52:52.:52:57.

glandular fever. In terms of all these guys coming up, although

:52:58.:53:01.

Yergin has taken a powerhouse out of it, still a solid boat along here.

:53:02.:53:11.

-- Jurgen. Arguably the strongest boat in this field but they have

:53:12.:53:14.

still lost their best four athletes and there is no other way to dress

:53:15.:53:19.

it up. These eight athletes may be the best eight athletes in the

:53:20.:53:24.

field, but they are not the best eight in Britain. Leading at the top

:53:25.:53:31.

now, and Russia coming through in Lane number two first up we get

:53:32.:53:35.

towards the halfway mark already. Halfway, the final of the men's

:53:36.:53:41.

eight, the 2016 European rowing championship. The Germans are

:53:42.:53:46.

traditionally good in the second 500, and this is where the Brits, in

:53:47.:53:51.

the third quarter, they need to show the toughness. The Men's Pair had a

:53:52.:53:58.

good third quarter, this is where we rely on the work the British put in

:53:59.:54:10.

over the winter. Language, a brilliant stern pair with Hodge.

:54:11.:54:19.

Individually all brilliant athletes, together, though, they can do

:54:20.:54:25.

special things. In this first 500 they are good racers, they will move

:54:26.:54:30.

it on here. They will need to do that. Here now the British have

:54:31.:54:34.

started to move through the 1250 metre mark. Not coming together. The

:54:35.:54:43.

Dutch have come back. The Russians are very definitely... They didn't

:54:44.:54:49.

go off to hard but they have come through in the third quarter, which

:54:50.:54:53.

is incredibly interesting to see. Especially as they have taken the

:54:54.:55:00.

best four Russians out. Great Britain closest to us, the world

:55:01.:55:04.

champions. At the top of your picture in the first Lane, Belarus.

:55:05.:55:08.

Still plenty to play for here. Hard to see where this is going to go. If

:55:09.:55:12.

the Russians hold on from here with 50 strokes to go, it will being --

:55:13.:55:20.

being credible. The British slightly slipped back here into third place.

:55:21.:55:27.

2.6 seconds off the Russians. Everything now going into this, as

:55:28.:55:31.

we count out 40 strokes from the line. The Russians, quite a big lead

:55:32.:55:39.

at this time. I think the Brits could get back the Germans, but the

:55:40.:55:47.

Russians too far ahead. The Russians in Lane number two. What out for the

:55:48.:55:58.

British crew. The Belarus and is our moving up. The Germans are only 37,

:55:59.:56:04.

one of these are going to win. If you are racing for your lives, up

:56:05.:56:08.

the rate goes with 200 from the line. Reeling in the Russians hand

:56:09.:56:17.

over fist. The Germans might get it... They knocked us off the

:56:18.:56:25.

podium! The Germans just jumped out, they are howling down against the

:56:26.:56:29.

Russians. Surely the Russians are not going to hold on here. The

:56:30.:56:34.

Germans have found the pace. The Olympic champions are coming through

:56:35.:56:42.

here at Brandenburg. The champions have opened up Clearwater against

:56:43.:56:47.

the British. Gold to Germany and the statement they are sending to the

:56:48.:56:51.

world champions. The Russians will celebrate with a silver medal. There

:56:52.:56:56.

really is only one statement here, as they look back on the British and

:56:57.:57:02.

say, the race is on! Your gold medal at Rio is far from certain. Men's

:57:03.:57:08.

eight racing, and other great finish. The next round of big

:57:09.:57:14.

important rowing action for you is live from Switzerland on the 29th of

:57:15.:57:18.

May. A lot of discussion about the men's eight and the composition of

:57:19.:57:24.

the men's and women's eight. What is your take on that? Definitely that

:57:25.:57:30.

the men's eight in the last 500 were very disappointing. They weren't

:57:31.:57:34.

really at the top of the race, but they weren't out of it at all. And

:57:35.:57:40.

then they just lost in the last bit. The concern is is not just the

:57:41.:57:43.

Germans in front of them, there are number of other boats. Hopefully

:57:44.:57:47.

there is an issue wide-out wasn't as good as we were hoping it to be. So

:57:48.:57:53.

a bit of work to do. But not a lot of time to do a lot of work. The

:57:54.:57:58.

women's eight, changes in personnel? An interesting one. A lot of

:57:59.:58:02.

excitement in coming back to win that race, you could see that on the

:58:03.:58:06.

girls faces. That is fantastic, but the reality is that the Dutch

:58:07.:58:12.

haven't qualified yet and they beat the crew that came fifth at the

:58:13.:58:15.

World Championships. They have to be faster. If they want to win a medal,

:58:16.:58:19.

they have to be faster than that. It will be interesting. We are

:58:20.:58:23.

finishing now but after that stick with us because the Badminton horse

:58:24.:58:26.

trials are coming up next. On the red button this afternoon you can

:58:27.:58:29.

see the British basketball play-offs. And there is football

:58:30.:58:34.

from four o'clock this afternoon and match of the day two tonight. For

:58:35.:58:38.

all the British rowing team after the events in Germany this morning,

:58:39.:58:42.

Rio just got a whole lot closer.

:58:43.:58:44.

John Inverdale presents coverage of the finals at the European Rowing Championships in Brandenburg, Germany.

Great Britain topped the medal table last year with 10 medals, including six golds, and with the Olympics on the horizon, the team will be looking to lay down a marker ahead of Rio.

The all-conquering Olympic women's pair champions Helen Glover and Heather Stanning lead a 51-strong British team, which includes four-time Olympic medallist Katherine Grainger.


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