VETERAN Ballarat rower Anthony Edwards is “virtually picked” to contest a fifth Olympic Games.
Edwards has been named in a 56-strong Rowing Australia international squad – all he needs now is the official tick of approval from the Australian Olympic Committee.
A final team will be nominated after World Cup racing in June.
Rowing Australia unveiled its squad following last week’s Olympic selection trial regatta in Sydney.
Edwards launched intense Olympic training with his lightweight four crew yesterday morning.
“It’s a shock to the body but there is a sense of excitement being selected...I’m back to the reality of training,” Edwards said.
“Knowing you’re officially on an Olympic team, you’re going to have hard training and will fall into lull periods when you sometimes feel not right or perfect but that’s all part of it.
“Our training’s got purpose now.”
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The 39-year-old, now based in Tasmania, and his crew of Todd Skipworth (Western Australia), Ben Cureton (WA) and Sam Beltz (Tasmania) bolstered their selection when they captured Australia’s first world championships gold in the men’s lightweight four for 30 years at last year’s titles.
Edwards said winning world gold was great and, despite fellow rowers telling him “you’ll be right, you’ll get in”, it was not until he got the official nod that Edwards started to realise what he was about to achieve.
The nerves he felt at the 1996 selection trials were similar to those he felt this year.
Edwards collected bronze in the lightweight men’s pairs at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and silver in the lightweight men’s four at the 2000 and 2004 Games.
He is still chasing an elusive Olympic gold medal, especially after a ninth-placing in 2008 at Beijing.
“Having now finally won world championship gold after 18 years in the sport, it’s the only thing left,” Edwards said.
Former Ballarat Grammar oarsman Tom Swann was named in the marquee crew, the men’s eight. Swann stroked Grammar to victory in the 2005 Head of the Lake and national schoolboys’ title in the same year.
Olympic silver medallist James Marburg must still battle for a spot but has been listed in the preliminary Australian squad. Marburg is one of five rowers battling for a place in the men’s pairs.
His rivals include reigning Olympic and dual world men’s pair champion Duncan Free, who is in contention for a fifth Olympics despite missing selection trials this week due to a rib-cartilage injury.
All five will train together for the next five weeks before two pairs are selected to race at Rowing World Cup 2 in Lucerne in late May.
Australia has qualified 10 boats for the London Olympic Games with a further three – the women’s eight, men’s single scull and men’s lightweight double scull – to bid to join ranks via the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland, from May 20.