ROWING: Local rowers ready for first big test

The first World Cup rowing regatta of the season takes place this weekend in Belgrade and for Coleraine’s Alan Campbell and brothers Richard and Peter Chambers it’s an opportunity to see how they shape up after a long winter’s training.

It’s nine months since the World Championships in Slovenia and the GB squad have been put through their paces in assessment trials and then the official trials themselves in order to be selected to one of the toughest teams to get into at this level.

It’s also Olympic year and with only this weekend and the second world cup event in Lucerne in three weeks time before the final squad for London 2012 is announced there is plenty of pressure as well.

Campbell’s winter was disrupted by GB Head Coach Jurgen Grobler who wanted him to race in the double sculls. Campbell gave it his full attention but in the end, after winning the GB trial in the single sculls for the eighth straight year, he decided he wanted to pursue his dream of winning an Olympic gold medal in the single.

And why not, after all he’s medalled in the last three world championships (silver, two bronze). Campbell’s decision didn’t go down well with Grobler and now he feels like there’s extra pressure to do well this weekend.

“I do think there’s a little extra pressure, there was an expectation from Jurgen that I would go into a double and I want to show it was a good decision to let me continue in the single,” he said.

“I feel personally that going into the single has improved the chances of the double and quad sculls to medal as well and that this is the best opportunity to get three medals in sculling.I want to prove and my hope is this weekend that I will prove this was the best decision for me and the rest of the team.”

His big opposition will come from Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic with world champion Mahe Drysdale not travelling from New Zealand until the second world cup.

Richard and Peter Chambers are in line to become the first set of brothers to compete together in the GB rowing team since the Searles, Jonny and Greg, won gold in Barcelona in 1992.

But there is much work to be done in the men’s lightweight four along with Rob Williams and Chris Bartley.

The younger Chambers brother, Peter, has stormed through the ranks in the GB squad winning both the world under-23 and senior titles last year in the non-Olympic lightweight pair and his continued progress has seen him join two-time world champion Richard in the boat.

They raced together in the Lucerne world cup last season when Bartley was injured and they’re hoping to get their Olympic campaign off to a winning start this weekend.

“The media is building up and there’s more in the papers now about the Olympics and it’s nice to sometimes think about it, but we’re quite good as a crew and individuals just to sort of stay on what is going on in the next couple of weeks,” said Peter.

“It’s easier to think like that rather than the bigger picture.”

Richard added: “We’re under no illusions we’ve got a lot of work to do as a unit.”

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