Olympic flavour to Boat Race crews

OXFORD yesterday announced a crew containing four Olympic oarsmen, including two gold-medal winners, to defend the Beefeater Trophy in this year’s Boat Race on March 27.

Cambridge countered with 10 oarsmen, two of them also Olympic competitors. Their president James Behrens conceded he would be unlikely to get away with two extra men on the day. He and his coaches were still working out the best combination.

On paper both crews rank among the very best that either university has put out since the fixture began in 1829. ‘They are as balanced as last year,’ said one coach yesterday, ‘but they are probably faster. Both have more experienced people.’

Cambridge will be trying once more to scupper Oxford’s recent record of 16 wins in 17 races and to stay ahead in the series. Another Oxford win will level it at 69 each with one dead-heat.

Oxford’s president, Matthew Pinsent, the Olympic champion in coxless pairs with Steve Redgrave, is rowing at No. 6 behind another Olympic champion, Bruce Robertson from the Canadian eight. Andrew Gordon-Brown from the South African Olympic eight is currently at three and Richard Manners, Britain’s spare man in Barcelona, is at five.

Apart from Pinsent, there are three Blues – last year’s president Joe Michels at two, Kingsley Poole at four, and the man who stroked Oxford brilliantly last year, Ian Gardiner, again in the stroke seat. Ed Hadden from last year’s reserve crew is at bow.

The Cambridge 10 include Richard Phelps from Britain’s Olympic eight and Malcolm Baker from the United States Olympic eight. They are likely to form the engine room at six and seven respectively, with last year’s Goldie oarsman Will Mason the most likely stroke.

The German Dirk Bangert, last year’s stroke, is likely to be up at the sharp end. Behrens and Dave Gillard are the other two Blues who return. Mark Thomson comes from Goldie and Jon Bernstein from Harvard and the US national squad.

The Cambridge question marks are on the low side, with Sinclair Gore and the freshman Chris Elmitt contesting. Nick Clary, who has been in the last two Cambridge crews, has not survived the selection process.

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