London 2012: GB men's coxless four prepared for title defence

Great Britain's men's coxless four believe they have done everything they can to prepare for "the biggest race of their lives" at the London Olympics.

Pete Reed, Alex Gregory, Tom James and Andy Triggs Hodge hope to win GB's fourth successive gold in the four.

The crew won gold in the first two World Cups of the season, but lost their last two races to Australia.

Analysis

Andy Triggs-Hodge, Tom James, Alex Gregory and Pete Reed

"Winning the first two World Cup regattas of this year was encouraging but they lost to a very strong Australian crew last time out in Munich. It would have been nice to have gone to the Games unbeaten but they know what they need to do to win. They have got to up their pace in the middle of the race. Their sprinting speed is strong, they just need to work on endurance. There is no reason why they can't beat the Australians."

"We're doing everything we can. We've never been so focused both mentally and physically," Gregory told BBC Sport.

"There's nothing more we'll be able to do. If that brings the right result then excellent. If it doesn't, I'll be pleased because I'll be able to say I did everything I can.

"I hope that doesn't happen - I'm pretty sure it won't."

The men's four won gold at the World Championships in 2011 with Richard Egington, Matt Langridge, Tom James and Alex Gregory, but men's head coach Jurgen Grobler took the decision to break up the crew.

Egington and Langridge made way for Reed and Hodge who, together with James and Steve Williams, won gold in Beijing four years ago.

The move looked to have paid off when they won in Belgrade and Lucerne, but defeats by Australia in the semi-finals and final in Munich have raised questions over their gold medal hopes.

James said: "Given the history of the last couple of races, the Aussies are our obvious rivals. We are the two crews who have been ahead of the rest in last few races.

"The Aussies have beaten us, so we've got to step up. It's a challenge. That's why we do it."

The GB men's four at the Olympics

  • 2008 - GOLD - Tom James, Steve Williams, Pete Reed, Andy Triggs Hodge
  • 2004 - GOLD - Steve Williams, James Cracknell, Ed Coode, Matthew Pinsent
  • 2000 - GOLD - James Cracknell, Steve Redgrave, Tim Foster, Matthew Pinsent

The heats for the men's four get under way on 30 July at Eton Dorney, with the Olympic final on 4 August.

"The Olympics is the be-all and end-all. This is the biggest race of my life. Everything I do is with that in mind," said Hodge.

"It's been an eventful few World Cups. We've had a few challenges and a few real high points, we've got a lot to take away from that.

"Looking at our camp, we put a lot of work in and now we're starting to get up to race rates. We've tried a lot of different things, exposed ourselves to brave thinking and, as a consequence, I feel stronger.

"It's all about standing on the podium and being able to sing my anthem. If I can get that right, I'll be happy.

Reed said: "I feel very well prepared. I don't think things are going to take us too much by surprise. We need to make sure we get it right on the day. If we get it wrong it'll be a horrible disappointment.

"But if we get it right, it will be one of biggest things that has happened in the sport."