Ballarat rowers off to Beijing

Updated November 2 2012 - 10:04am, first published July 8 2008 - 1:42pm

IT'S OFFICIAL - Ballarat's Anthony Edwards will row a fourth Olympics, but the veteran competitor said this week's ratification of the Australian rowing team was a mere formality.The Australian Olympic Commission has approved the squad, also including Ballarat's James Marburg and Sarah Heard, for the Beijing Games after final Olympic qualifications in Poland last month.Both Edwards (men's lightweight four) and Heard (women's eight) were selected in an initial provisionary squad in February and have been deep in training with their crews since.Marburg (men's coxless four) was later added in April following further selection trials on the proviso they qualified the boat at Poland.Edwards told The Courier from his Sydney training base yesterday that it was nice to have been "signed on the dotted line" but his primary focus was already on what lies ahead."I still do pinch myself sometimes, I never thought I'd be going to a fourth Olympics - I have completely and utterly got the five-ring bug fever," Edwards said."I guess we had our selection trials back in February and when I found out I had made the team it was really exciting back then."Right now we're in camp and in the final journey to Beijing and have just got back from that final competition phase in Europe."Edwards' crew arrived in Sydney on Monday where they will be based on the water for the next month. His crew is scheduled to train with Marburg and the men's heavyweight four while Heard is also on the water at Penrith with the women's eight.Edwards hoped to catch up and have a "gossip" with the Ballarat rowers, who will each make their Olympic debuts, before they all embarked for the Games.He was impressed with the preparation they had made."James was just amazing how his crew not only qualified their boat but won gold at that world cup event as well. It was just extraordinary. One of the greatest moments in sport, I think," Edwards said."The feeling up here about the women's eight is very positive too."It'll be a tight field but they are probably Australia's best chance to get on the podium."Australia is the only nation to have qualified in every boat class for the Games, a feat only achieved before by Germany at Athens in 2004.The 14-boat squad includes 48 rowers, and forms the largest contingent of athletes in the Australian team.Edwards was familiar with the entire Olympic preparation and event process and said the biggest hurdle in his Beijing journey had been deciding to take it in the first place.The Tasmanian director of rowing ventured out of retirement about 18 months ago in search of an elusive gold medal to add to his two silver and a bronze.Getting back to an Olympic standard had been a process in itself but he still felt improvement each day.

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