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Andy Hodge inspired by young recruits
Double Olympic champion Andy Hodge believes Great Britain’s new-look squad can look forward to a golden future ahead of the World Championships, which start in South Korea tomorrow.
Hodge, from Hebden near Skipton, has been part of the inevitable post-London revamp after switching from the coxless four, in which he won titles in both London and Beijing, to form part of a rejigged men’s eight.
And with the new boat’s particular challenges and a strong squad of fresh faces keen to claim his place, the 34-year-old is not lacking in motivation after deciding to dig deep into a third Olympic cycle.
“I’ve never seen such a strong team and there is such a fresh air of optimism and excitement about what we’re doing,” said Hodge.
“Considering how young this squad is, there is some real power for the next four years and I’m sure all records are going to be broken and new standards will be set.
“That’s fantastic for the team and it’s a massive challenge for me to maintain my position in the squad – but that’s exactly what I need.
“If I am aiming for another gold in Rio, then my performance in London isn’t going to be good enough. We need these young guys to keep pushing us forward if rowing is to maintain its position as Great Britain’s number one Olympic sport.”
The British squad’s elusive search for a major men’s eight title has seen them finish second in each of the last two World Championships, as well as taking a bronze in London – all behind the all-conquering German boat.
And Hodge was made only too aware of the size of the challenge in hand after his new crew suffered the disappointment of finishing out of the medals in the World Cup regatta in Lucerne earlier this season.
He said: “Lucerne wasn’t a disaster but it wasn’t great either. When you come off loads of internal testing, you’ve got to go to big races and make sure you perform.
“I hate coming fourth in any race and it’s a tough one to learn from. But this is all about the challenge and with the eight it’s almost about whether you dare to accept it.
“The easy option would have been going back into the four or into a pair, because the eight is really something quite different.
“People have been talking for a long time about why we haven’t put out a top eight when we’ve had the characters and the right people to pull it off, so the challenge of being involved is really a quite exciting one.”
Great Britain have sent a team of 58 rowers to Chengju – including Hodge’s fellow Olympic gold medallist Helen Glover, who remains unbeaten in major competition this season with her new pairs partner Polly Swann.