Friday, 20 July 2018

Leander stars set the pace at world championships

A SUCCESSFUL start to the rowing World Championships in France means that all 24 British crews

A SUCCESSFUL start to the rowing World Championships in France means that all 24 British crews are still in with a chance of medals after the completion of three days’ racing,

writes Robert Treharne Jones.

But the competition has been anything but straightforward, with early defeats for the men’s four and men’s quad, who had to qualify via the repechages.

Meanwhile the GB men’s eight opened their account with a storming performance that saw them qualify direct for Sunday’s final.

With Will Satch back in the stroke seat, and Stan Louloudis at two, the eight fought off the challenge from the Netherlands and Russia in the fastest time of the day. The crew’s arch-rivals, the German Olympic champions, won the other heat, in a time that was almost two seconds slower.

“We knew it was going to be a hard heat and the field didn’t disappoint. We are quietly pleased and now need to get on and prepare for the final. There is more to come,” said Leander’s Pete Reed afterwards.

The open men’s quad rounded off a good opening morning when Leander’s John Collins and Jonny Walton raced to second place and a quarter-final slot in the men’s double scull. The women’s eight, with five Leander athletes on board, came third in their heat, which was won by the USA, the Olympic and world champions, with the Netherlands in second place.

But it was Tuesday’s repechages that raised pulses among British spectators as the men’s quadruple scull and men’s four faced a last chance to progress and keep their Rio Games’ hopes alive.

Leander’s Al Sinclair, Tom Ransley and Stewart Innes, with Oxford Brookes’s Scott Durant were only recently selected for the four, after trials at the team’s altitude training camp in Austria.

The quartet trailed Argentina in the first part of the race but came through to take the lead just before halfway, building a length over the field by 1500m, and staying firmly in the driving seat to win.

Despite lying back in fourth for much of the race Agecroft’s Graeme Thomas, Sam Townsend of Reading University, and Leander’s Charles Cousins and Peter Lambert kept up the pressure in the men’s quad.

Only in the last 500m did they open up to take the verdict on the line by just under a second over Ukraine, the European silver medallists and defending World Champions, with Canada in third.

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