1 May 2008

Great Britain have shaken up their flagship men's coxless four as they aim for a third successive Olympic gold.

Tom James and Tom Lucy - credit Peter Spurrier - GB RowingAlex Partridge has been left out of the crew that missed out on world gold last year for the first time in a decade, with Wrexham's Tom James replacing him.

Crews are only certain for the first World Cup event in Munich next week but are a good indication of Olympic plans.

Sir Steve Redgrave expects the boats to stay the same until the Olympics.

Only Steve Williams remains from the coxless four line-up that secured Matthew Pinsent's fourth successive Olympic gold four years ago.

Partridge was supposed to be in that Athens line-up but suffered a punctured lung in the final stages of preparation.

Last year he missed the World Cup event in Lucerne with a knee injury - James replacing him - before returning to the crew at a disappointing World Championships, where they finished fourth.

James, 24, said: "Alex must be bitterly disappointed. I'm still learning and seeing how the dynamics of the boat work. I hope I will develop as the season goes on.

"It's the top boat and one you aspire to. And it has the best chance of winning in Beijing." Tom Lucy Credit Peter Spurrier - GB Rowing - Thumbnail

Partridge will now be part of the men's eight, which surprised many to clinch world bronze, which also features Monmouth's Tom Lucy.

Steve Redgrave added: "Rumour has it in the last few weeks the eight has been going very well indeed. Perhaps they have got a chance of winning this year - I hope so."

Great Britain won seven World Championship medals in Olympic classes last September and have qualified crews for 11 of the 14 events in Bejing.

The final Olympic qualifying regatta will take place in Poznan, Poland, in June.

Those who have already qualified will compete in three World Cup events, in Munich and Lucerne in May then in Poznan in June in preparation for the start of the Olympic regatta on 9 August.