Olympic Briefs: Sarsfield underlines world-class status as North-East rowers prepare for British trials

Olympic Briefs: Sarsfield underlines world-class status as North-East rowers prepare for British trials

Olympic Briefs: Sarsfield underlines world-class status as North-East rowers prepare for British trials

First published in Sport The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

EMILY SARSFIELD put the disappointment of her Winter Olympic omission behind her as she ended the ski cross season in fine style.

Sarsfield, who was controversially excluded from the British squad for the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi despite fulfilling the qualification criteria, underlined her world-class credentials as she finished 12th in the Ski Cross World Cup finals in La Plagne, France.

The British number one, who is from Brancepeth, was understandably devastated at British Ski And Snowboard’s decision not to award her an Olympic place, with the governing body and the British Olympic Association appearing to question her ability to produce a “credible” performance.

Her top-12 finish at the World Cup was certainly ‘credible’, and in the wake of her performance, she tweeted: “A massive thanks to my sponsors – and those people who believed in me.”

Sarsfield then followed up her World Cup display by defending her domestic ski cross title at the British Championships in Tignes.

The 30-year-old finished comfortably clear of her home challengers, although the presence of 16-year-old Emma Peters and 15-year-old Andrea Seaton on the podium suggests she might not have things all her own way in the build up to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Sarsfield said: “It was perfect weather and a perfect day. It’s so great to see everyone enjoying it. I’m an old timer, but I loved seeing how many kids were involved. It’s so good for the grassroots of the sport.”

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THE North-East’s elite rowers will return to action in this month’s Senior British Trials at Caversham after the British Rowing team opted not to compete in last weekend’s opening World Cup event in Australia.

With the Australian leg of the World Cup series taking place in the northern hemisphere off season, British Rowing officials opted not to travel to the other side of the world to take on crews who are in the middle of their summer campaign.

Instead, the likes of Kat Copeland, Jess Eddie, Tina Stiller, Beth Bryan and Nathaniel Reilly-O’Donnell will return to competitive action in the British trials, which take place between April 18-20.

The trials will play a major role in determining the make up of the British squad for May’s European Championships in Belgrade, with August’s World Championships in Amsterdam providing the main focus for the 2014 season.

Stokesley-based Copeland, who became the first North-East female ever to win an Olympic gold medal when she triumphed in the lightweight double at the 2012 Games, missed the whole of last year as she took a break from the sport.

The Northern Echo: MEDAL CEREMONY: Kat Copeland, left, and fellow rower Sophie Hosking

However, she returned to full training last autumn, and is expected to form part of a new-look lightweight double following the retirement of her Olympic partner, Sophie Hosking.

Eddie missed a large chunk of winter training through illness, but the Durham ARC member was part of an elite squad that attended an overseas training camp at the end of last month and is expected to secure a place in the women’s eight.

Bryan, who is a member of Tees Rowing Club, won a silver medal at the World Under-23 Championships last summer, but is hoping to step up to senior level this season.

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