OXFORD’S Andy Triggs Hodge declared Great Britain’s new-look men’s four so “astonishingly” fast, they could turn up on the day of the Olympic final with no preparation and still challenge for a gold medal.
And with four months of unbroken training and racing ahead of them, Hodge believes no crew in the world will match Britain’s flagship boat.
It was confirmed on Wednesday that Hodge and fellow Oxford Blue Pete Reed will move from the pair back to the men’s four and defend their 2008 Olympic title alongside Alex Gregory and either Tom James or former Oxford Brookes student Alex Partridge.
The final make-up of the crew will be announced before the opening World Cup regatta of the season in Belgrade, which starts on May 4.
“Our Beijing boat was only together for six weeks in total. We had very little time together, just because of illness and injury, (and still won gold),” Hodge said.
“I just think about how fast this boat can go with no training together. During seat racing, it went astonishingly fast.
“I mean everyone was like, ‘Oh my God’. That’s what’s so exciting.
“Part of me thinks we can get together on the day and we will be a formidable force. Give us a couple of weeks, we can be electric.
“If we can have a clean run from here, I’ll be damned if anyone is going to beat us or come close. It’s a very exciting project.”
Chief coach Jurgen Grobler’s decision to move Hodge and Reed from the pair meant breaking up the men’s four crew that won gold for Britain at the 2011 World Championships.
But the motivation was to maximise Britain’s chances of Olympics gold - and strengthening the men’s four has had the knock-on effect of also strengthening the eight.
Ric Egington and Matthew Langridge have moved boats and they will be joined by either James, an Olympic champion, or Partridge, a world champion.
The eight also features Constantine Louloudis, an Oxford undergraduate who will stroke the boat and is 20 years younger than his comeback crew-mate Greg Searle, a 1992 Olympic champion.
“We have the strongest team ever,” said Grobler, who has guided the British men’s four to gold at the last three Olympic Games.
The women’s quad scull consists of 2004 and 2008 Olympic silver medallist Frances Houghton, who hails from Wheatley, along with Beth Rodford, Mel Wilson and Vicky Thornley, from Henley.
Brothers Richard and Peter Chambers, past and present Oxford Brookes students respectively, have made the lightweight men’s four along with Rob Williams and Henley’s Chris Bartley.
Alan Campbell decided to continue in the single scull, while Wallingford’s Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter are set to defend their Olympic title in the lightweight double scull.
World champion double scullers Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins will lead Britain’s assault for a first Olympic gold in women’s rowing.