Thornley in late switch ahead of Olympic selection

Vicky Thornley could make the Olympic squad just 4 and a half years after taking up the sport. Credit: British Rowing

Wrexham rower Vicky Thornley has been handed the stroke seat of the women's eight for the final rowing World Cup Regatta of the season in Munich, ITV Wales News understands.

Thornley, who only started rowing four and a half years ago, has had a meteoric rise from the novice ranks to the international scene and sat in the women's quad for the first two World Cup meets in Belgrade and Lucerne, winning bronze in Serbia.

The GB coaches though clearly believe she may be the person needed to make the eight more competitive ahead of this summer's London Olympics, after their disappointing fifth place finish last time out.

That race, against a strong field that included crews from Australia, Canada and the USA saw GB finish over 7 seconds behind winners USA.

Former model and equestrian rider Thornley has had the backing of Olympic Legend and five times gold medal winner Steve Redgrave, who believes she has what it takes make the final squad, when it is announced on June 6th.

"She's been doing very well. She's come from equestrian and swapped sports. She's more suited towards rowing and has been doing very well.

"I think almost their [all three Welsh rowers] selection has been rubber stamped.

"All three of them will be on the team unless they have an injury or something.

"[Vicky] has a very good chances of medals."

Thornley forms one third of an impressive Welsh contingent in the current GB set-up alongside Wrexham neighbours Chris Bartley and Tom James.

All three look set to make the London squad after impressing during winter testing and the early season races.

James, who appears to have regained his seat in the leading men's boat, the coxless four, laid down a significant marker for London in last weekend's World Cup meet in Lucerne, Switzerland by setting a new world record in the heats.

That time, of 5.37.86 was four seconds faster than the previous best, and means he is now likely to get the chance to defend the Olympic title he won in the same boat in Beijing four years ago.

Lightweight Chris Bartley is also likely to make the cut for London in the mens lightweight four, after the disappointment of missing out on selection four years ago.