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


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


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


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


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


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


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


crush it. 89 days until the Rio Olympics,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


important but they are stepping stones towards the Olympic Games.


European Championships, the finals today, that is another stepping


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


not a little result. Nothing indeterminate. Talking about


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


it is worth saying that the conditions were very difficult in


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


disappears into all the other pressures that are involved, because


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


hear from rowers who are at disappointed at not winning races


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


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


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


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


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


winners! Great Britain go into the Olympic


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


see how that approach makes a massive difference to your boat


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


as the Great Britain management would like. One particular


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Great Britain leading from the champions. Switzerland in second


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


through. The world champion Switzerland have come through. Great


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


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


sixth, currently not challenging the scorecard here.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the current European bronze medallists. Across all of this,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


positives from this weekend, apart from saying that these conditions


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


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


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


responding. The Belarussian crew getting stronger and stronger. The


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Grainger of old would never have entertained anything other than


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


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


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


eventually, winning many World Championships and an Olympic gold


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Dutch. James Cracknell, Great Britain are the European champions


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


eight is still phenomenally powerful. In these conditions I


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


eight, the 2016 European rowing championship. The Germans are


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


here at Brandenburg. The champions have opened up Clearwater against


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Rio just got a whole lot closer.


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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