ROWING: Neots rowers are world champions

PUBLISHED: 10:53 11 August 2010 | UPDATED: 15:07 11 August 2010

WORLD CHAMPIONS: Bethany Astell, left, and Philippa Neill with their medals.

WORLD CHAMPIONS: Bethany Astell, left, and Philippa Neill with their medals.

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ST NEOTS rowers Bethany Astell and Philippa Neill added their names to the list of the club’s world champions with victory in the Great Britain eight at the World Junior Championships.

ST NEOTS rowers Bethany Astell and Philippa Neill added their names to the list of the club’s world champions with victory in the Great Britain eight at the World Junior Championships.

Astell and Neill won the first ever gold medal for a junior women’s crew at the championships in Racice in the Czech Republic.

It is the sixth time in seven years that St Neots Rowing Club has contributed members to the World Championship team – more than any other club in the country – and follows on from Jacqui Round’s win at last year’s U23 championships.

Astell and Neill, both 18, won selection to the crew after a gruelling process that began in October 2009.

Both Neots rowers were selected for the Munich International in May, and the crew began to take shape in competition at the Henley and Reading regattas early in the summer.

Astell and Neill attended a four-week training camp with the crew ahead of the championships, which began with a semi-final on Thursday.

The crew got off to a promising start, reeling in early leaders Germany to win by a comfortable margin and progress automatically to Saturday’s final.

In the other semi-final, the USA qualified two seconds quicker, though confidence in the GB camp remained high.

Poor weather on Saturday meant a longer land warm-up before taking to the water, but they showed no ill-effects in the race itself.

Germany again led the final early on, with GB in second ahead of the USA. The GB crew moved into the lead after 500m, and had made a length on their opposition by the half-way mark.

They turned up the pace in the second half of the race, steadily pulling away, and finished with clear water to the USA eight and Germany who took silver and bronze.

St Neots Rowing Club coach Martyn Rooney paid tribute to the pair.

He said: “St Neots have had a lot of international success, with six girls racing at the World Championships in recent years but this has to be the best ever result. It is just reward for all the years of hard training and overcoming injuries that the girls have coped with.

“Bethany and Philippa have a bright future ahead of them at international level, and will be focusing on getting involved in the U23 set-up now that they are leaving the junior ranks.”

The other members of the winning crew were Fiona Gammond (Headington School), Ruth Whyman (Gloucester), Georgia Howard-Merrill (Headington School), Yasmin Treddle (Gloucester), Camilla Hadland (Stratford upon Avon), and Rosa Atkinson (Runcorn) with cox Lily Van Der Broecke (Headington School).

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