Rodford ready for challenge
By Laura Fell
AFTER success at the GB Rowing team national trials, Gloucester Rowing Club's Beth Rodford is looking ahead to the 2013 season with real excitement.
World champion in 2010, Rodford endured a frustrating 2012 season that culminated in a sixth-placed finish at the London 2012 Olympics.
But with a trial win in the bag, the focus switches to the first international World Rowing Cup of the year, which will be held in Sydney, Australia from March 22 to 24.
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And 30-year-old Rodford is happy to be racing again, after a strong winter training period.
"We leave for Sydney in just over a month, and it should be an amazing regatta," she said.
"As the World Cup is so much earlier this year than usual, there is no time for more trials or crew formation.
"We will be extremely competitive in Sydney but we won't necessarily be in the same combinations we will be rowing in later in the year at the World Rowing Championships."
Rodford finished sixth in the women's quadruple sculls at the London 2012 Olympic Games but said that she is open to changing boat class in what she describes as a 'weird but exciting year'.
British Rowing will hold internal discussions next week about possible boat formations which will be lining up in Sydney next month.
"We can do anything this year, which is really exciting," Rodford said.
"There are rumours going around about boat classes and potential crews.
"But I have said to the chief coach that if the eight or the pair are the priority I will do sweep rowing, and if the quad or the double are priority boats, I will scull. I have no preference."
With several key members of the GB Rowing team, including Olympic gold medallists Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins, taking some time out, new faces rising through the ranks will challenge for seats.
Rodford is appreciative of the competitive environment this new blood creates.
"The new faces are really exciting for the next Olympiad and the competition between us is brilliant for women's rowing," she said.
"It means we cannot be complacent. There are new people trialing for our seats.
"We all train together, and everyone is incredibly supportive of each other, but ultimately, we all want to be the best and it is very competitive. The level of competition pushes up.
"You can get in to a rut when training and the new women training with us are enthusiastic, which makes me excited."
There is no doubt that Rodford has impressed with her recent victory at the GB Rowing trials and reminded the coaching staff she is on top.
Racing in the women's single sculls, Rodford completed the 5000m course in Boston, Lincolnshire in 18 minutes, 44.05 seconds to win by more than ten seconds.
Rodford said: "The conditions were brilliant, perhaps the best we have ever rowed in.
"I went off first, which was nice, but no guarantee you will get the result you want. Nevertheless, I had a good race and everything went well.
"It has been a really tough few weeks since training camp. Everyone has had their ups and downs, and this trial could have been anyone's.
"I had a good few days leading up to the trials. I like to get the best results and to put in solid performances. I want to remind the coaches that I'm here and that I'm at the top."