GREG Searle says the London 2012 Olympics have been put on the backburners for the time being, with the focus solely on next weeks Rowing World Championships in New Zealand.

The Marlow resident, right, has forced his way into the GB men’s eights crew after returning to the sport a decade after retiring, and he insists the World Championships are more than just a dress rehearsal for London.

He said: “Of course the big goal is London 2012 and it’s in my mind, but for me it’s a massive thing going to the World Rowing Championships.

“People are saying it’s a stepping stone to 2012, and that’s true, but a gold medal in the eight is a very special thing.”

Searle helped Britain to victory early on in the World Cup Series during the summer, but the Germans responded well and Searle expects them to be the team to beat again.

He said: “The Germans are the world champions. We’ve raced them a few times this year and got closer and closer to them and I think we’ve made our eight better and stronger since the last time we raced them.

“We’ve taken out some guys who are good and replaced them with guys who are better.

“Yes, the Germans are the ones to beat, but I think we can beat them on our day.”

Meanwhile, Marlow RC’s Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins are sizzling hot favourites to win the women’s doubles after a storming World Cup Series.

Grainger said: “There is a very long gap between the World Cups and the World Championships.

“It’s going to feel like it’s a new event and the early rounds will be everyone finding out where each other are.

“But we want to go in and set the standard ourselves so everyone is having a tough race against us rather than the other way around.”

Meanwhile, in the men’s lightweight double sculls, Olympic winners Zac Purchase (Marlow) and Mark Hunter (Wycombe) will be hard-pressed to upset home favourites New Zealand.

The 2010 World Rowing Championships take place at Lake Karapiro, New Zealand, from October 31 to November 7.

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