IF PETE REED was not fully aware how tough it is going to be to successfully defend his Olympic rowing title in London, he does now.

The former Cirencester Deer Park School pupil and his Team GB Men’s Four had to settle for silver medals in Munich’s final World Cup event before the Games after twice being beaten by their great rivals, Australia. Meanwhile, Swindon-born Stephen Rowbotham, another alumnus of Deer Park as well as Stratton Primary School in Cirencester before that, finished fourth along with his fellow Quadruple Scullers in the last warm-up race before the Olympiad.

Reed’s four had gained a terrific last-gasp victory over the Aussies in the previous World Cup regatta in Lucerne, but on this occasion they never looked like overhauling their in-form rivals.

But it does set up a fascinating decider when the two best teams in the world clash at Eton Dorney during the Olympics.

Reed switched from the bow seat to No.2 for the Munich final after the Australians beat the Brits in the semis. Reed said: “We have tried out several different things and even after our world’s best time in Lucerne we wanted to search for more speed.”

The British quartet of Reed, Alex Gregory, Tom James and Andrew Triggs Hodge remained neck and neck with Australia in the early phases. Just before halfway, the Australians pushed on to build a third-of-a-length lead and as the crews came towards the grandstand they had doubled that advantage.

Team GB rallied but it was not enough to take gold as they were beaten by 0.87 of a second.

“We found a different rhythm today and that was a lot better,” said Triggs Hodge. “I think we have learnt a lot here and we can take that away to training camp in the next six weeks.”

While the expectations for the men’s quadruple scull crew of Rowbotham, Tom Solesbury, Charles Cousins and Matt Wells is not as high as Reed and co’s, they are still eyeing a podium finish in London.

They reached their first final of the year in Munich and came fourth behind strongly fancied Croatia and Germany. They were within a second of the third-placed Italians.

“We have made progress here and I still believe we can realistically aim to get on the podium,” said Wells, who won bronze with Rowbotham in the double scull in 2008.