Solid start at Shunyi

[img_assist|nid=1944|title=Women’s pair race the Olympic heats|desc=Peter Spurrier|link=none|align=left|width=402|height=268][img_assist|nid=1941|title=Peter Spurrier|desc=Men’s double winning their heat|link=none|align=right|width=355|height=268]
TeamGB’s rowers got off to a solid start to the Olympic regatta today at Shunyi, nr Beijing, with three heat wins and a good performance in the women’s pair from newcomers Olivia Whitlam and Louisa Reeve.

"It’s been quite a buzzy day", said TeamGB’s rowing team manager, David Tanner.

The wins came from the men’s double and single sculls and the men’s four. Whitlam and Reeve were third in their heat and will now race a repechage as will the equivalent men’s boat of Robin Bourne-Taylor and Tom Solesbury and the women’s double of Anna Bebington and Elise Laverick.

Alan Campbell‘s win in the men’s single scull was well-received after his disrupted lead-up to the Games because of a knee infection.

Steve Williams, meanwhile, described his men’s four as "realistically confident" after their victory today in which they overcame the Italians to move into a semi-final on Wednesday.

The men’s double of Stephen Rowbotham and Matt Wells looked strong in winning from Croatia and Estonia.

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RACE REPORTS – SATURDAY

Alan Campbell, gradually returning to fitness after a recent knee infection, raced, as he put it, "more conservatively than normal" to win his heat here and progress to a quarter-final.

The Coleraine man got his nose ahead by the 1000m mark and, when challenged by Australian Peter Hardcastle, in the final stages of the race could not resist a finishing burst to record a victory in 7:14.98.

"That’s a great relief to me", said Campbell afterwards. "I’m more than pleased with that race and I didn’t feel any pain".

The men’s double were also heat winners. Matt Wells and Stephen Rowbotham were behind a potentially threatening Estonian double at the halfway point but pulled through strongly to win in 6:26.33 ahead of Croatia.

"Pulling through from behind like that has made me really confident", said Rowbotham after the race. "It’s like a game of chess out there on the water", added Wells. "Everyone has to decide when to make a push and time
it right".

The men’s four made a controlled start to their race today and it soon became clear that Italy, world championships medallists last year, would become the main threat. Great Britain led them by 0.82 seconds at 1000m and by 0.99 at 1500m. "Italy were potentially a dangerous crew and we had it as our objective to win that race today. It’s given us a realistic confidence for the next stage", said Steve Williams.

Elise Laverick and Anna Bebington were clearly disappointed with their heat of the women’s double scull today in which they finished third and now face a repechage. "It didn’t really go to plan", said Laverick. "The Czechs and Chinese moved on us and we didn’t
espond. Now we have to throw everything at the repechage to make it to the final".

China, who led from the start ,were race winners in 7:03.13 with the Czech Republic in second. Only China, the reigning world champions, now go through to the final on Saturday.

Louisa Reeve and Olivia Whitlam qualified recently for the Games in the women’s pair. The duo showed what progress they have made since that time by racing to a strong third place behind current Olympic champions, Romania, and Germany.

Germany went out ahead in the early part of this race and were tracked by Great Britain. Gradually, though, the Romanians picked up the pace and moved through to first place by 1500m before taking victory in 7:22.69.

Tom Solesbury and Robin Bourne-Taylor had hoped to pick off the Germans and Danes in their men’s pair heat to take a semi-final place along with the gold medal favourites and today’s heat winners, Drew Ginn and Duncan Free from Australia and a strong South African combination. It didn’t quite go to plan with the British finishing fourth and heading for a repechage.

"We got a good start and we were feeling strong throughout the middle of the race. In the last 300m when we tried to go up a gear it all fell apart", said Tom Solesbury afterwards.

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RESULTS

OPEN

WOMEN

Pair

Heat 2
1. Georgeta Andrunache/Viorica Susanu (Romania) 7:22.69
2. Lenka Wech/Maren Derlien (Germany) 7:28.66
3. Louisa Reeve/Olivia Whitlam (GREAT BRITAIN) 7:29.88
4. Portia McGee/Anne Cummins (USA) 7:29.95
5. Inene Pascal Pretre (France) 7:42.92

Double scull

Heat 2
1. Li Qin/Tian Liang (China) 7:03.13
2. Jitka Antosova/Gabriela Varekova (Czech Republic) 7:04.23
3. Elise Laverick/Anna Bebington (GREAT BRITAIN) 7:08.65
4. Catriona Sens/Sonia Mills (Australia) 7:13.25
5. Laura Schiavone/Elisabetta Sancassani (Italy) 7:30.25

MEN

Pair

Heat 2
1. Drew Ginn/Duncan Free (Australia) 6:41.15
2. Shaun Keeling/Ramon di Clemente 6:45.26
3. Robin Bourne-Taylor/Tom Solesbury (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:59.48
4. Morten Nielsen/Thomas Larsen (Denmark) 7:17.43

Four

Heat 1
1. Tom James/Steve Williams/Pete Reed/Andy Triggs Hodge
(GREAT BRITAIN) 6:00.59
2. Italy 6:02.84
3. USA 6:03.96
4. China 6:09.64
5. Belarus 6:12.63

Single scull

Heat 5
1. Alan Campbell (GREAT BRITAIN) 7:14.98
2. Peter Hardcastle (Australia) 7:17.74
3. Patrick Loliger (Mexico) 7:22.55
4. Ken Jurkowski (USA) 7:25.13
5. Ruslan Naurzaliyev (Uzbekistan) 7:58.43

Double scull

Heat 2
1. Matt Wellls/Stephen Rowbotham (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:26.33
2. Ante Kusurin/Mario Vekic (Croatia) 6:27.38
3. Tonu Endrekson/Juri Jaanson (Estonia) 6:27.95
4. Alexander Kornilov/Alexey Svirin (Russia) 6:44.46
5. Haidar Nozad/Hussein Jebur (Iraq) 7:00.46

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