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Page last updated at 08:30 GMT, Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Olympians picked in Oxford crew

Smith and his Oxford crew-mates
Smith (left) won silver in Beijing as part of the Great Britain men's eight

Oxford will field five Olympic rowers against a Cambridge crew of British rising stars in this year's Boat Race.

Although Colin Smith occupied the key stroke seat in the silver medal-winning Great Britain Olympic eight, Croatian Ante Kusurin takes the spot for Oxford.

"It isn't quite Olympic standard but it almost is; the people are very committed," Smith told BBC Oxford.

Cambridge's Henry Pelly, Tom Ransley and Peter Marsland are all contending for GB international vests this summer.

On 29 March the character of our guys will meet those Olympians head on

Cambridge coach Chris Nilsson

Cox Rebecca Dowbiggin is back for her third race after winning in 2007 but losing last year as Oxford triumphed by six lengths.

American Shane O'Mara, who was forced out of the race on medical grounds in 2008, must settle for a place in the Cambridge reserve crew, Goldie.

New Cambridge coach Chris Nilsson was in charge of the New Zealand Olympic squad in Beijing and admitted he has had to scale back his training plans for a less experience group.

But he dismissed suggestions his crew are the underdogs this year.

"You would expect people to say that when [Oxford's] boat's got five Olympians and we don't have any," he told BBC 5 Live.

"It doesn't mean a thing. On 29 March the character of our guys will meet those Olympians head on."

Smith and New Zealander George Bridgewater, who won bronze in the coxless pair in Beijing, are the stars for Oxford.

Oxford coach Sean Bowden said: "I believe that we have one of the strongest Oxford crews in years.

"We have a technically strong and experienced crew but we still recognise the challenge that Cambridge represent."

Smith is now the president of the Oxford University Boat Club and is studying a masters in business at the University.


"Having been an undergraduate here at Oxford, finishing in 2006, I wanted to come back because the people are so ambitious," he said.

Boat Race crews:

Oxford: Michal Plotkowiak, Colin Smith, Alex Hearne, Ben Harrison, Sjoerd Hamburger, Tom Solesbury, George Bridgewater, Ante Kusurin, cox: Colin Groshong

Cambridge: Rob Weitemeyer, Henry Pelly, Deaglan McEachern, Peter Marsland, Ryan Monaghan, Hardy Cubasch, Tom Ransley, Silas Stafford, cox: Rebecca Dowbiggin

Reserve crews:

Goldie (Cambridge): James Strawson, Dan O'Shaughnessy, Code Sternal, John Clay, Shane O'Mara, Joel Jennings, George Nash, Fred Gill, cox: Helen Hodges

Isis (Oxford): Mike Valli, Douglas Bruce, Tim Farquharson, Alec Dent, David Hopper, Justin Stangel, Colin Keogh, Martin Walsh, cox: Adam Barhamand

see also
Students get tough on the Thames
17 Dec 08 |  Other sport...
Cambridge crews come to blows
17 Dec 08 |  Other sport...
GB stars back in action on Thames
09 Nov 08 |  Olympics
Oxford crew win 154th Boat Race
29 Mar 08 |  UK News

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