Australian news item, 2nd September 1999

The Rowing Service


By Leigh Murray

MELBOURNE, Sept 1 AAP - Oarsome Foursome member James Tomkins today declared the coxless fours would be his priority for the Sydney Olympics despite winning Australia's only world championship gold medal in the coxless pairs.

Tomkins said the prospect of winning a third Olympic gold medal as part of the famous Foursome was a greater motivation than an attempt on the coxless pairs.

Tomkins won the gold medal in the coxless pairs at the world championships in Canada at the weekend with Oarsome team-mate Drew Ginn, becoming the first rower in history to win five sweep-oar events at world championship level.

Despite his success Tomkins said the coxless fours would remain the No.1 event for him at the Olympics, although the final crew won't be determined until later this year.

The dual Olympic champion crew were split up this year after being beaten at the national trials by the UTS crew from Sydney - Geoffrey Stewart, Boden Hanson, Ben Dodwell and Jim Stewart - which won silver at the world championships.

The Australian coxless fours were beaten by Great Britain, led by legendary British rower Steve Redgrave.

Tomkins said he remained hungry to win another Olympic gold medal to finish his career on a high.

"Certainly the motivation is there and (when) you realise that you're travelling pretty well it just adds to the excitement of knowing that you are going to perform well," Tomkins said.

"And to be involved in that, to try and carry through a little bit of our own history and to knock off the Poms, would be great."

But the likelihood of Nick Green - who did not go to the world championships - forming part of the Oarsome Foursome line-up again remained unknown, although Tomkins said he was hopeful he would regain his form and qualify.

"He's got to satisfy himself and us and the medical staff that he's capable of getting through the season at the level that he knows is required," he said.

Tomkins said his world championship win was as important as his Olympic medals, especially the record he achieved of taking gold in five sweep-oar events at that level.

"It's the only colour that I've got in world championships or Olympic Games and to get another one is great," he said.

Entering the final stages of his career Tomkins said any success he achieved now would be a bonus, especially the Olympic Games.

AAP, 01/09/99 23:24 AEST