Road to Rio starts in Sydney for rowing trio

ROWERS from clubs in Northwich have the potential to race at the next Olympic Games, according to Great Britain selectors.

Teenage trio Lucy Burgess, Emily Ford and Ed Grisedale are part of the team for next month’s Australian Youth Olympic Festival, the first international regatta of the new four-years cycle.

Winners from past editions of the five-day event, held in Sydney, have become Olympic champions.

“It’s an opportunity for us to show what we can do,” said Burgess, who switched to Northwich Rowing Club from neighbours Runcorn a year ago.

“I think we knew we were all capable of making the squad, but I’ve had to try not to put too much pressure on myself.”

Burgess, 18, has raced at two junior world championships, placing seventh in the women’s quad in Plovdiv during the summer.

Clubmate Grisedale is no newcomer to the international stage either after reaching the final in a double last year when the event was in England.

He said: “I’m excited to have been picked.

“It’s a huge challenge because January is not a normal month for a championship, plus its summer in Australia at the moment.

“Not only that, we’ll have to adapt to three different boats over two days which is itself a big test.”

A team of 20 rowers represent Great Britain at an event expecting more than 1,700 athletes from 30 countries to take part.

Selectors say the standard of opposition, plus the chance for athletes to experience a multi-sport competition for the first time, make it an important step on the path to Rio in 2016.

The threesome had to keep news of their selection a secret until an announcement by GB Rowing on Wednesday.

Ford, from Grange School Rowing Club, was walking her dog when she found out she was in.

“I wasn’t sure I’d done enough at the trial,” she said.

“So to receive a call to say I’d made it was a lovely surprise.

“I’m both nervous and happy to be going, although at times I can’t quite believe it’s really going to happen.”

They report for a training camp on Monday.

The trio fly to Australia on January 5 and the festival starts a fortnight later.

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