Searle wants to bow out at Henley with a win

Olympic gold medallist Greg Searle takes centre stage at the Henley Royal Regatta today for a classic head-to-head final between the two fastest boats in the world – aware it is likely to be his last top-class race at the prestigious event.The 39-year-old from Marlow, who is bidding to win gold at London 2012 in the GB men's eight 20 years after his 1992 triumph in Barcelona, wants to bow out in front of the Henley hordes with a win."For me, personally, this will probably be my last Henley when I'm fully fit and you enjoy it a lot more when you are winning," he said.The GB eight, racing at 15.30 today in the Grand Challenge Cup final, were just six-tenths of a second behind the Germans at the World Championships and a few feet at the first world cup of 2011 in Munich.Yesterday they went faster than their rivals in their respective semi-finals but Searle knows numbers mean nothing until they cross the line ahead of the German crew racing as R.C. Hansa Dortmund – and even then, that Henley is a unique animal."Being close to the record and being quicker than the Germans is really nice for our confidence but it doesn't win us anything," said Searle."It was a great performance having not done any racing for five weeks. We've been in a little bit of a training phase, and we have to remember Henley is special and different."The GB crew will face their rivals next weekend at the final world cup in Lucerne before heading off on a summer training camp to prepare for the World Championships in Slovenia at the end of August which double as qualification for 2012."What happens in Lucerne on a six-lane course in much more sanitised conditions could well be different," said Searle who had 10 years out of the GB Rowing Team before deciding to make his comeback for the London Games. Searle, who is a Steward of the Regatta, will line up with crewmates Alex Partridge, James Foad, Cameron Nichol, Nathaniel Reilly O'Donnell, Mohamed Sbihi, Tom Ransley, Daniel Ritchie and cox Phelan Hill for the 2,112m race – the crews last international competition on home water before London 2012.Stroke Ritchie said they don't intend on forever being "bridesmaids" to the German boat – and believe they will close the gap at or before 2012 by putting their faith in their German coach Jurgen Grobler."It is quite a positive feeling we're getting closer and closer to beating the Germans," he said. "It is trusting Jurgen's programme and knowing it will deliver eventually, whether that is here (at Henley) or 2012," he said."I try not to make any changes from multi-lane racing but it is different."We know the Germans and we speak to them on the podium and we show them respect. We just want to win fair and square."The GB eight, racing as Molesey B.C. & Leander Club, according to the Regatta rules, will start at 3:30pm on Sunday.The prize giving will take place at 4:30pm, with the trophies presented to the winners by four-times Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Sir Chris Hoy.For further information contact the Henley Royal Regatta Press Office on (01491) 572 153 or (01491) 579387