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Golden boy Hodge gets set for biggest race of his career
Hebden ’s Andy Hodge will begin his quest for a second Olympic gold medal at Eton Dornay on Monday aware of the enormity of the task ahead.
The 31-year-old rower has admitted; “The Olympics is the be-all and end-all. This is the biggest race of my life. Everything I do is with that in mind.”
Hodge is competing in the men’s coxless four – an event Great Britain has won at the past three Olympics.
In 2000 it was James Cracknell, Steve Redgrave, Tim Foster and Matthew Pinsent who struck gold for Great Britain.
Then in Athens it was Steve Williams, James Cracknell, Ed Coode and Matthew Pinsent who stood on top of the podium.
The winning sequence was extended in Beijing by Hodge, Tom James, Steve Williams and Pete Reed.
Three of that crew, Hodge, Reed and James have been joined by Alex Gregory as they look to continue Britain’s proud record of success in the event.
The formbook suggests that Hodge and his colleagues are in for a battle with old adversaries Australia for gold.
Great Britain established themselves as favourites when they won the opening two World Cup meetings of the year, before Australia won the third in Munich.
The Australians defeated Great Britain in both the semi-finals and finals in Germany and raised concerns over the performance of the Great Britain crew.
Hodge and his colleagues showed great finishing speed but it was in the middle of the race where the Australians pulled away.
Great Britain’s head coach Jurgen Grobler is a shrewd operator and he will no doubt have analysed the Munich performance and worked out how to win the Olympic race.
It was Grobler’s decision to break up last year’s World Championship winning four of Richard Egington, Matt Langridge, James and Gregory, so that he could re-instate the talented Hodge and Reed who had been racing in the pairs for three years.
Hodge and his colleagues have been working on methods that they hope will give them the edge.
Hodge admitted: “It has been an eventful few World Cups. We’ve had a few challenges and a few real high points, we’ve got a lot to take away from that.
“Looking at our camp, we put a lot of work in and now we’re starting to get up to race rates. “We’ve tried a lot of different things, exposed ourselves to brave thinking and, as a consequence, I feel stronger.
“It’s all about standing on the podium and being able to sing my anthem. If I can get that right, I'll be happy.”
The heats are being held at Eton Dornay on Monday, with the semi-finals on Thursday and the final on Saturday, August 4.