The GB Trials scheduled for this coming weekend will feature a couple of notable no-shows, including defending world and Olympic champion in the lightweight men's double, Zac Purchase. Not only will Purchase be on the sidelines for the event, he posted what some feel is a controversial blog entry to his website yesterday, explaining the situation while alluding to his past successes at Trials as well as his hopes for the London Games. The last three years have been difficult for Purchase from a training perspective, as he missed an entire year of competition due to illness following Beijing (also, doubles partner Mark Hunter was taking a year off, coaching with the UCLA women's rowing team in California–more on this in Hunter's RR interview following worlds last year), and since then has battled illnesses at key times, only to come back and deliver again and again when it counts most. Just last year, Purchase missed Lucerne due to illness; Hunter raced to an eighth place finish in the LM2x at the final World Cup of the summer with Adam Freeman-Pask.
The duo of Hunter and Purchase was reunited just in time for Bled, however, and proved that they are still the combination to beat at the world level, edging emerging rivals Peter Taylor (who recently, unofficially, broke the world's best time set by Purchase at Eton in 2006, competing at the 2012 NZ National Championships and posting a 6:44.38 in the LM1x) and Storm Uru of New Zealand in a very close race to take the world title once again. Further background on the relationship between Purchase and Hunter, and how that relationship has weathered the storm of expectations and uncertainty up to this point, is revealed in this article, published today by BBC Sport. While some people might call them cocky, it is that very confidence that carried the two of them through last season, which they capped off with a dramatic victory. Still, the team dynamic needs to be carefully managed–something of which GB team manager David Tanner is no doubt acutely aware.
Another key absence will be Nathaniel Reilly-O'Donnell, who rowed on the GB men's eight last year in Bled that took silver. Reilly-O'Donnell, who was scheduled to race with last year's seven-man Tom Ransley, will not be competing this weekend due to illness. Ransley will instead race with Greg Searle in the M2- event.