By Mike Rowbottom

World Cup_rowing_-_Pete_Reed_and_Andy_Triggs_Hodge_April_4April 4 - British rowers Andy Triggs Hodge and Pete Reed will almost certainly give up on their attempt to win Olympic gold in the pair rowing – an event in which they have consistently been unable to defeat dominant New Zealanders Eric Murray and Hamish Bond.

Instead the duo (pictured top, left to right) will return to the boat in which they earned Olympic gold at the 2008 Beijing Games – the four.

Meanwhile, Greg Searle (pictured below) stands on the verge of a remarkable Olympic comeback at the age of 40 – some 12 years after he retired from international rowing.

Searle, who won gold in the coxed pairs at the 1992 Barcelona Games, was named today in the GB Rowing Team's eight for the first World Cup of the season – in Belgrade from May 4 to 6 – with Reed and Triggs Hodge named in the four.

David Tanner, performance director of GB Rowing, confirmed the World Cup squad will closely match the line-up for this summer's Olympic Games to be held over the Eton Dorney course.

"Inevitably there will be some tweaks, but what you see today will be the basis for our Olympic team," Tanner said.

If Searle can retain his place in the newly formed eight it will be an outstanding achievement given that he gave up hope of any further Olympic glory after the disappointment of narrowly missing out on a medal in the four at the 2000 Sydney Games.

The arrival of Britain's two top heavyweight talents in the four has in turn broken up the quartet that won the world title last year.

Only Alex Gregory definitely remains, although his 2011 crew mate Tom James, who also won Olympic gold in the four at Beijing, will have the opportunity to retain his place; however this will only be if he performs sufficiently well in testing against Alex Partridge, who missed his chance of being in the victorious 2004 Olympic four when he punctured his lung but earned Olympic silver four years ago in the eight.

Either James or Partridge – who came second in last month's trials with Gregory behind the favourites Reed and Triggs Hodge – will join an eight that will also include Ric Egington and Matthew Langridge, displaced from the world champion four.

Exciting newcomer Constantine Louloudis, a former world junior and world Under-23 champion, will stroke an eight that will include Moe Sbihi, James Foad and Tom Ransley, all from the 2010 world silver medal crew.

Unusually, a cox has not been named as the selection process continues between Phelan Hill, Acer Nethercott and Rowley Douglas.

World Cup_rowing_-_Greg_Searle_April_4
"This is a very big day for the GB Rowing Team," said Tanner.

"It's the start of the most important season any of the teams has experienced.

"It's a thrilling season for us and for the rowers.

"I have absolutely no doubt that what we are showing will be the best team in depth and standing that Britain has ever put on the water."

Tanner added: "World Cups are important competitions in their own right but this one will be more significant than usual as it gives us the first glimpse of the potential 2012 racing form of our crews.

"We are always ambitious to do well and will want to see a number of crews on the Belgrade podium.

"We will take into account performances in Belgrade as we shape the team for the remainder of the season."

Meanwhile, GB Rowing Team's first men's pair will be raced in Belgrade by two world under-23 medallists who have stepped up impressively in competition and training over the winter.

George Nash took 2011 world under-23 gold in the men's pair with Louloudis and Will Satch was a bronze medallist in the eight.

The emergence of young rowers like Satch and Nash provides a strong outlook for the squad through to Rio in 2016.

Changes have been made to the men's sculling squad with Sam Townsend and Bill Lucas in the double scull for Belgrade.

Lucas, a former world under-23 champion, and Townsend, from the 2011 quadruple scull, were both – along with many of the current senior British team -  identified and developed by the Siemens and lottery-backed Start scheme; they last raced together at a world cup in early 2011 when the duo took silver in a GB one-two in that event.

Alan Campbell, world medalist for the past three seasons, will race the single scull but there will also be a new-look men's quadruple scull to be named from five rowers, including Marcus Bateman, Charles Cousins, Stephen Rowbotham, Tom Solesbury and Matt Well; Rowbotham and Wells won Olympic bronze together in Beijing in the double scull.

Britain's top two female crews have been named unchanged.

Anna Watkins and Katherine Grainger, twice world women's double scull champions in 2010 and 2011, will compete in the women's double scull.

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, world silver medallists and 2012 GB Rowing Team trials winners, will contest the women's pair.

Grainger is already a three-times Olympic silver medal winner whilst Watkins won bronze in the double scull in Beijing.

The women's quadruple scull consists of 2004 and 2008 Olympic silver medallist Frances Houghton who will be joined by 2010 world champion Beth Rodford, World Cup silver medallist Mel Wilson and Sporting Giant graduate Vick Thornley who won world bronze in the 2011 women's eight.

Annabel Vernon and Rachel Gamble-Flint will contest the women's single sculls event – this is the only boat category, of 14, in which Great Britain has not already qualified for the 2012 Games.

The final qualifying regatta for the Games is in Lucerne, Switzerland, from May 21 to 23.

Changes have been made to the women's eight since its world bronze medal of 2011.

This boat, coxed by Caroline O'Connor, now includes Jo Cook, Emily Taylor, Polly Swann, Olivia Whitlam, Louisa Reeve, Jess Eddie, Katie Greves and Lindsey Maguire; all except Taylor and Swann have experience at senior world championships or Olympic Games level.

Since 2007 Britain has also emerged as a world force in lightweight rowing in all three Olympic boat categories – the lightweight men's and women's doubles, and the lightweight men's four – as well as enjoying success in the International Class lightweight men's pair and women's quadruple scull in which Britain is the reigning world champion.

Olympic champions Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter have been named for Belgrade in the lightweight men's double scull.

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