LONDON 2012: Louloudis not named on Olympic team but given time to prove fitness
CONSTANTINE Louloudis, the rising star of British rowing, will be given more time to prove his fitness after he was not named in Team GB's initial London 2012 squad.
WAITING: David Tanner, British Rowing's performance director, will make a final call on Constantine Louloudis's fitness before confirming men's eight crew (Getty Images)
Louloudis has already won a Boat Race with Oxford and has taken a year out from his Classics degree at Trinity College to focus on his Olympic ambition.
Described by four-time Olympic champion Sir Matthew Pinsent as 'a bit of a beast', the 20-year old has won world titles at junior and under-23 level and has made an attention-grabbing transition to senior ranks.
However, an untimely back injury meant he missed the World Cup fixtures in Belgrade and Lucerne and he could still be absent from the final pre-Games regatta in Munich.
Despite this, his spot on the team - with many tipping him to be stroke of a powerful eight crew - is being held open and there is a possibility he could race for the first time this summer at the Games, if he proves his fitness to men's coach Jurgen Grobler.
Matthew Langridge and Alex Partridge, both part of the world champion winning men's four last year, are among the seven rowers named in the men's eight.
They will be joined by Greg Searle, looking to win gold 20 years after his coxed pairs victory in Barcelona, Richard Egington, James Foad, Tom Ransley and Mohamed Sbihi, while Phelan Hill will be cox.
Selection has also not been finally confirmed in the women's eight, with an initial squad of ten named.
Louisa Reeve, Annabel Vernon and Natasha Page all returned to the boat after injury and illness in Lucerne while Vicky Thornley, who raced in the quad at the last World Cup regatta, and Lindsey Maguire, who was injured, are also in the mix.
Also named are Jo Cook, Jessica Eddie, Katie Greves, Emily Taylor, Olivia Whitlam and cox Caroline O'Connor.
Otherwise there were few surprises in the 48-strong rowing squad, it will rise to 52 in number including five reserves, with the men's four - seeking to continue Team GB's winning run in the event that dates back to 2000 - confirmed as Alex Gregory, Tom James, Pete Reed and Andy Triggs Hodge.
Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase will also look to defend their Olympic title in the lightweight men's double scull.
And three-time Olympic silver medallist Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins will be favourites to end Great Britain's long wait for a woman Olympic rowing champion in the double sculls, in which they are two-time world champions.
"It's been an incredible honour and privilege to be part of the past three Olympic Games and as wonderful as they have all been there is a sense that the upcoming home Games will be on a different scale to anything we've ever seen before," said Grainger.
In addition, the women's pair of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, winners of the opening two World Cup regattas, have strong claims to win that historic first gold while Debbie Flood and Frances Houghton, silver medallists alongside Grainger in Beijing, are joined in the women's quad by Beth Rodford and Melanie Wilson.
The men's quad is made up of Charles Cousins, Stephen Rowbotham, Tom Solesbury and Matthew Wells and the lightweight men's four features brothers Richard and Peter Chambers plus Chris Bartley and Rob Williams while George Nash and Will Satch were confirmed as the men's pair.
Bill Lucas and Sam Townsend compete in the men's double, two-time Olympian Alan Campbell again goes alone in the single scull and Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking will continue their partnership in the women's lightweight double scull.
Great Britain topped the rowing medal table in Beijing with six medals, including two golds, and were also the dominant nation at last year's World Championships.
"We are an ambitious sport going into the Games," said Team GB's rowing team leader David Tanner.
"We go to the start in London ready to defend our status as the leading rowing nation from Beijing but we are under no illusion as to how tough winning medals, especially gold medals, will be at this Games."
© Sportsbeat 2012