THE Rio Olympics will see Richmond rower Zoe Lee make her long-awaited Games debut, and according to two-time Olympic medallist Mark Hunter MBE, it may be first time lucky as Team GB fields its strongest ever women’s eight.
After winning a European medal of every colour since 2012 in the boat, Lee has been selected in the eight for Rio after she adding gold to her collection at the European Championships in Brandenburg earlier this year.
The boat has welcomed a whole host of fresh talent ahead of the Games, and confidence is high that this could be the year the boat first makes an appearance on the Olympic podium.
And for Hunter, it will be interesting to see how the boat overcomes a recent dip in performance when they make their bow on the Rio stage.
“For me, the women’s eight has been the most exciting boat to watch this year. They have made fantastic progress and have built a really strong unit,” said Hunter.
“They had a slight step back in Poznan when they lost to a crew they should have beaten, so it will be interesting to see how they have dealt with that, especially having had Katherine Grainger and Vicky Thornley trying to get in that boat.
“Having that blip would have been tough for them, because they were on that curve going straight up and it was their first knockback of the season.
“There has been a lot of disappointment in that boat for a long time, but having the young girls come in and gee the older girls up has given them a mix of everything, and the more experienced girls will be able to make sure the newer ones keep a cool head.”
Invesco Perpetual’s innovative new ‘City Regatta’ event is a celebration of the achievements of Leander Club, the main feeder club to the GB team with 22 of its rowers headed for Rio, and aims to encourage more people across the UK to get involved in rowing.