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EXCLUSIVE: 'Olympics easier than GB trials'- Townsend

Published: 16 Mar 2012 11:000 comments

READING's Sam Townsend feels competing in the Olympics will be easier than last weekend's GB rowing trials.

Tough trial: Reading's Olympic rowing hopeful Sam Townsend.
Picture: Alicia Field.

The 26-year-old rower, who was born in Reading, just missed out on the men's single A final on Sunday but went on to comfortably win the B final.

However, he was very disappointed with his performance.

"I was a bit gutted not to be competing in the final," he exclusively told the Chronicle.

"I always knew it was going to be tight but at the same time it shows the

depth of competition we've managed to develop."

He added: "It's the most competitive field we've ever had in sculling."

Townsend admitted that the trials at Dorney Lake were the hardest of his career, not just because of the selection pressures, but also because he was racing team mates who are also his friends.

"The trials are horrible because you're racing against your team mates and someone has to miss out."

The former Chiltern Edge pupil started rowing under GB's Start programme, sponsored by Siemens, nearly a decade ago.

He has competed in the most nerve-wracking competitions- World Cup and Olympic qualifying regattas and eight previous trials- but he puts last weekend's trials as the worst yet.

He said: "I've been in some very intense environments but I would rank the weekend with the worst of them.

"It's certainly not a comfortable environment to be in. Everyone was very

wound up. I didn't feel normal until Tuesday."

Townsend, who is a member of Reading University Boat Club, believes the trials are the ultimate test of mental strength.

"The summer's racing can't be any harder in terms of the mental side.

"There won't be any emotional attachment and we'll be helping each other with the racing instead of being against each other.

"It's almost easier to compete in the Olympics."

He added: "What was important was the coaches want to see you executing the race plan to the best of your abilities.

"Come the summer, with 30,000 people watching, you can't just live off the emotion all the time. You need structure, calm and precision.

"It's all good practice for the summer."

Indeed Townsend revealed it was one of the biggest crowds he had raced in front of at Dorney on Sunday, bigger even than the World Championships.

"That was only a tenth of what it could be like in the summer," he commented.

Townsend, who is engaged to fellow GB rower Natasha Page, was part of the men's quad which narrowly missed qualification for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, so he is desperate not to miss out this time round.

"It all comes down to these final few decisions and performances and we don't want to waste it," he said.

"It means a hell of a lot to everyone which is why it was a highly-strung environment."

Townsend, though, remains upbeat despite the slight setback and, despite intense media speculation about the crew make-up, he is not even thinking which boat he will be in and will perform at his best whichever boat he is assigned to.

"I try and keep everything as simple as possible. Whatever combination I row in, I'll make it go as well as I can and attack it with the same idea.

"You need to be able to row with others and to get the best out of yourself and of others."

The squad for the forthcoming World Cup regattas will be announced on April 4.

For a full report and pictures see Thursday's Reading Chronicle.

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