Cook named in women’s eight squad

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Sydney University Boat Club (SUBC) representative Sarah Cook has been selected in the Australian women’s eight crew that will compete at the final Olympic qualifying regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland from May 20-23.

Despite last year ruling out the possibility of sending a women’s eight team to London, Rowing Australia yesterday announced that the team would attempt to qualify next month.

The squad, trimmed from 11 to eight and to be coxed by 2008 Olympian Lizzy Patrick, comprises Phoebe Stanley, Hannah Vermeersch, Alexandra Hagan, Sally Kehoe, Renee Chatterton, Tess Gerrand, Sarah Cook, and Robyn Selby Smith.

Only a couple of months ago it was a boat that seemed as much chance of appearing at the Olympics as the Titanic.

But the collective willpower of the rowing fraternity has given eight female rowers a final shot at pulling off Mission Improbable and qualifying for the Olympics.

“The way they are coming together I think they can qualify,” said Rowing Australia chief executive Andrew Dee.

“They have to run first or second in the trial and there will be some good opposition there from Germany, China and several other nations. But they have done really well. We didn’t want to lower the performance standards to let them in. They had to trial well.”  

Late last year Rowing Australia felt the women’s eight were not worth entry in the Games.

They finished last at the 2008 Olympics, continuing the frustration of 2004 in Athens when Sally Robbins stopped rowing before the finish line.

But an outcry in the rowing fraternity resulted in a rethink.