Pragnell back in Australian squad in one last Olympic bid

QUEANBEYAN's eight time national rowing champion Fergus Pragnell wants to make "one last crack" at an Olympic Games debut for Rio 2016 after winning selection for the next two rowing World Cup events and the World Championships for 2014.

Queanbeyan rower Fergus Pragnell, pictured third from the right in the back row, is aiming to make his Olympic debut at Rio 2016. Photo: Rowing Australia.

Queanbeyan rower Fergus Pragnell, pictured third from the right in the back row, is aiming to make his Olympic debut at Rio 2016. Photo: Rowing Australia.

After winning gold in the Men's Eight event at the first World Cup in Sydney earlier this year, as well as winning bronze in the Coxless Fours and gold at the Australian Championships in pairs, Pragnell made the national squad in the Coxless Fours that will compete in the French region of Aiguebelette, Switzerland's Lucerne and Amsterdam for the World Championships.

This comes after taking a 12-month break from the sport.

In 2012 he tried out for the London Olympics team but only rowed well enough to be selected as a reserve, and did not end up making the trip.

"To be the reserve there and to comeback now and make the top crew- I'm pretty happy about that so I've got to try and hold my spot there until the next Games in Rio," said Pragnell.

He said despite two World Championships scheduled between now and Rio 2016, the Olympics was his main focus.

"The World Champs are pretty big for rowing every year but the Olympics- that's what everyone in the sport wants to do," he said.

"It's what get's me out of bed every morning, to try and make my dream of rowing at the Olympics."

Pragnell said his recent selection was a great result after re-discovering his passion to make an Olympic team following his break from the sport last year.

"I didn't go to the World Championships last year and I didnt try out for the national team, so I wasn't too sure how I was going to go after the first time I've had a season off," he said.

"The Coxless Four is also the priority boat for the men's team, so it's also the first time I've been in the top crew."

In rowing, a Coxless Four team is made up of four rowers who steer their boat on their own without a person steering with the rudder, also known as the 'cox'.

Pragnell has been rowing since 2002 and has participated on a national level for a decade now.

He has participated in five World Championship events in his career, winning bronze at the 2008 event in Ottensheim, Austria.

Over recent years Melbourne has been his home, and he has spent the last six months training full time at the Victorian Institute of Sport with his current teammates.

The national rowing squads will base themselves in Sydney to train for the next six weeks before spending eleven weeks in Europe for these competitions.

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