Italian job for Leicester rower in GB development crew
Loughborough rower Jonathan Walton has been selected to be part of the GB Rowing Team for the European Championships in Italy next week.
Walton, 21, from Leicester, will race in the men's quadruple scull at the event on Lake Varese, one of nine GB development crews competing in the wake of a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games for GB's rowers.
The Europeans has become a traditional 'baptism' at a top-level championship for new and young GB rowers aspiring to gain selection to the senior squads and this is their first opportunity in the Rio 2016 cycle, with the long selection process soon to start for the 2013 World Championships in Korea next summer.
None of the 47 GB rowers who raced at the 2012 Olympic Games will compete at the event from September 14-16, with the GB team continuing the practice of blooding upcoming talent against leading crews from other nations - many of which will have featured at London 2012.
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For most of the 30-plus GB rowers making the trip to Italy it will be their first senior Championship - with Imogen Walsh, Adam Freeman-Pask, Kieren Emery and Dan Ritchie the few exceptions.
Several of the lottery-funded team, such as Caragh McMurtry, Olivia Carnegie-Brown, Kieren Emery and Matthew Tarrant won medals at the World U23 Championships in Trakai, Lithuania, in July.
McMurtry, from Southampton, and Carnegie-Brown, from Oxford, claimed silver in the women's pair while Newcastle rower Emery and Tarrant, from Shepperton in Surrey, won gold in the men's pair.
Significantly, a number of the squad have also come through the Siemens-sponsored, START talent identification and development programme. The START programme locates and fast-tracks rowers with potential to represent their country, such as Matt Gotrel from the START centre in Nottingham, Claire McKeown from the Glasgow centre and Preston's Graeme Thomas from the Manchester centre.
The future of the GB Rowing Team is also being supported by High Performance Programmes at rowing clubs across the county, funded by the National Lottery and sponsored by Siemens.
Yasmin Tredell was identified via the START centre in Evesham, Gloucestershire, and is now part of the GB Rowing Team's High Performance Programme at Oxford Brookes University Boat Club. Other members of the squad bound for Varese have come from similar HPPs at Molesey BC, Leander, Imperial College, London RC and Durham University.
The senior experience in the team includes London Rowing Club's Imogen Walsh who won World gold in the non-Olympic-class lightweight women's quadruple scull last summer, Dan Ritchie from Herne Bay in Kent, a 2011 World silver medallist in the GB men's eight who was ruled out of possible selection for the Games by injury earlier this year, and Adam Freeman-Pask, from Windsor, a 2011 World finalist in the non-Olympic-class lightweight men's single scull.
The squad also includes Monica Relph from Henley-on-Thames whose sister Pam won gold in the mixed coxed four at the Paralympic Games on Sunday and twin brothers rowing together in the men's eight, Mason and Scott Durant from Lancaster.
"We expect the standard to be high as many nations will be entering boats who raced at this year's Olympics, so while it will be a great experience for our crews we will be keeping our aspirations realistic," said Pete Sheppard, Team Manager and Lead Coach of the GB squad for the Championships.
Racing starts on Friday September 14 with 'A' finals for the top six of each event on Sunday September 16.