London 2012 Day 2: Doubles double up on heats victories
“This is the Olympic Games, it’s what every elite athlete trains so hard for and like all elite athletes we hate losing”, that’s how Mark Hunter summed up the motivation that he and Zac Purchase felt in the final quarter of their lightweight men’s double scull heat today.
The Beijing gold medallists led early and then held off a strong finish from arch-rivals and World silver-medallists Storm Uru and Peter Taylor to win in 6:36.29 from New Zealand’s 6:37.02. Both crews now move into Thursday’s semi-finals.
They were drawn together today, despite their pedigrees, because of Hunter and Purchase’s topsy-turvy results at recent world cups.
Sophie Hosking and Kat Copeland in the equivalent women’s GB boat will also feature on the same day’s race card. The duo unleashed a powerful surge just beyond halfway and went on to win in 6:59.97 – by far the fastest time across the three heats.
Whilst the British women’s eight, bronze medallists at the season’s final world cup, admitted that they weren’t at their best today in finishing third in a heat won convincingly by the Olympic champions from the USA, they believe there is more to come in Tuesday’s repechage.
WHAT’S AHEAD FOR THE ROWERS?
Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins open their Olympic account tomorrow in the heats of the women’s double scull as do the men’s four of Alex Gregory, Pete Reed, Tom James and Andrew Triggs Hodge.
The British men’s eight, featuring three returning Beijing silver medallists Alex Partridge, Matt Langridge and Ric Egington will race their repechage of the men’s eight.
Beijing quadruple scull silver medallists Frances Houghton and Debbie Flood line up with Melanie Wilson and Beth Rodford in the repechage of the same event here tomorrow.
Racing starts at 09.30.
Waiting in the stillness of the start, Sophie Hosking and Kat Copeland seemed immune to both the crowd noise further down the course and the onset of rain.
Halfway down the course they poured on the pace as the heavens opened around them. Earlier they had been led by New Zealand on the opposite side of the course. By 1,200m gone the British had created a length lead and behind these two leaders a surging battle raged between Cuba and Denmark.
Denmark not only emerged to see off Cuba but to take the second qualifying slot for the final by overhauling New Zealand in the final stretch. Seeing the battle behind them Hosking and Copeland kept up their blistering pace to win in 6;56.97. Greece won the second heat and China the third
Copeland said: “It was great at the start, it just felt like Dorney where we’ve done so many pressurised events like the GB Trials. I think that gave us an advantage.
“For me it’s also a good thing not to have done the Olympics before. I think you can come into it excited and just enjoy it.
“Having pressure on us in the semi-final is not a bad thing. After all, this is the Olympics and we want to get into the final. The pressure comes more from ourselves.”
Hosking added: “We knew we were going well in training and it was just a case of putting that into practice in the race.”
Menacing storm clouds were rattling around the course where crowds of thousands of British supporters were gathered on the grassy banks as well as in the grandstands when Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase settled at the start.
Immediately there was a sense of a point to prove against old rivals Storm Uru and Peter Taylor from New Zealand, the World silver medallists in 2010 and 2011. Both crews flew out of the start and each seemed determined to get their nose ahead. Within 15 strokes, Purchase and Hunter had a marginal upper hand.
Through the course of the race Hunter, proud of his East End roots and fiercely proud to be racing in London at the home Games, and Purchase stretched that lead little by little.
At halfway they had two-thirds of a length, maybe more. Experts riding alongside in the coaches’ peleton sensed a “scrap” emerging as the New Zealanders began to reel them back in as the race and the crowd noise reached its peak with 500m to go.
“No-one is going to row through a British crew in the final 500m with that crowd roaring them on,” said Hunter later. At the end it got closer and closer but the British duo showed their race-awareness and aggression to win in 6:36.29. Italy had earlier won the first heat and Denmark won heat three – both raced in faster times.
Purchase later said: “I think everyone is aware we’ve had a pretty tough season. For us it was a case of saying to ourselves and others that we are a crew to beat – to say that what we have done in the last six weeks has been very effective.
“Everyone knows that Mark and I are capable of raising our game for the big occasion and there is no bigger one than the Olympic Games.
“We’re not forgetting of course that there is a semi-final and a final to come and we’re keeping our feet on the ground and staying focussed. We need to make sure that we step on for the rest of the regatta.”
The GB women’s eight of Olivia Whitlam, Louisa Reeve, Jess Eddie, Lindsey Maguire, Natasha Page, Annabel Vernon, Katie Greves, Victoria Thornley and cox Caroline O’Connor were not best pleased with their own performance but know they have the repechage to straighten the record somewhat.
Inevitably the USA were imperious winners of this heat and qualified directly into Thursday’s final. As reigning World and Olympic Champions they are acknowledged as a “class act”. They took the lead early, leaving Germany, Australia and GB in a chasing group.
The British combination were exactly a second off Australia for the first three-quarters of the race before dropping back at the end.
“We weren’t very together at the finish and we didn’t have a very good row, to be honest, but there’s more to come”, said Page.
Vernon added: “We just need to approach it with calm and clear heads in the next phase.”
London 2012 Olympic Games regatta
July 29 – August 4, 2012
(Events featuring British crews only. For full results go to www.london2012.com)
Heats – Sunday July 29
Eight (1 to final, 2… to repechage)
1. United States 6:14.68
2. Australia 6:20.89
3. Olivia Whitlam/Louisa Reeve/Jessica Eddie/Lindsey Maguire/Natasha Page/Annabel Vernon/Katie Greves/Victoria Thornley/Caroline O’Connor (cox) (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:23.51
4. Germany 6:34.32
Double Scull (1-2 to semi-finals, 3… to repechage)
1. Sophie Hosking/Kat Copeland (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:56.97
2. Anne Lolk Thomsen/Juliane Rasmussen (Denmark) 6:59.94
3. Louise Ayling/Julia Edward (New Zealand) 7:02.78
4. Yaima Velazquez Falcon/Yoslaine Dominguez (Cuba) 7:12.99
5. Maria-Clara Rohner/Milka Kraljev (Argentina) 7:33.37
6. Sara Mohamed Baraka/Fatma Rashed (Egypt) 7:45.23
Double (1-2 to semi-finals, 3… to repechage)
1. Zac Purchase/Mark Hunter (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:36.29
2. Storm Uru/Peter Taylor (New Zealand) 6:37.02
3. Roderick Chisholm/Thomas Gibson (Australia) 6:47.33
4. Fangbing Zhang/Jie Sun(China) 6:57.67
5. Mario Cejas/Miguel Mayol (Argentina) 7:01.76
Crews listed Bow to Stroke followed by
(Club, Home Town, Date of Birth)
Helen Glover (Minerva Bath, Penzance, 17/06/86)
Heather Stanning (Army RC, Lossiemouth, 26/01/85)
Coach: Robin Williams
Olivia Whitlam (Agecroft RC, Warrington, 16/09/85)
Louisa Reeve (Leander Club, London, 17/05/84)
Jessica Eddie (Univ of London BC, Durham, 07/10/84)
Lindsey Maguire (Wallingford RC, Edinburgh, 15/01/82)
Natasha Page (Gloucester RC, Hartpury, 30/04/85)
Annabel Vernon (Leander Club, Wadebridge, 01/09/82)
Katie Greves (Leander Club, Oxford, 02/09/82)
Victoria Thornley (Leander Club, Wrexham, 30/11/87)
Caroline O’Connor (cox) (Oxford Brookes Univ BC, Ealing, London, 25/04/83)
Coach: Nick Strange
Anna Watkins (Leander Club, Leek, Staffs, 13/02/83)
Katherine Grainger (St Andrew BC, Aberdeen, 12/11/75)
Coach: Paul Thompson
Melanie Wilson (Imperial College BC, London, 25/06/84)
Debbie Flood (Leander Club, Guiseley, W. Yorks, 27/02/80)
Frances Houghton (Leander Club, Oxford, 19/09/80)
Beth Rodford (Gloucester RC, Gloucester, 28/12/82)
Coach: Ade Roberts
Jo Cook (Leander Club, Sunbury-on-Thames, 22/03/84)
Emily Taylor (Leander Club, Lincoln, 28/06/87)
George Nash (Molesey BCGuildford, 02/10/89)
Will Satch (Leander Club, Henley-on-Thames, 09/06/89)
Coaches: Christian Felkel & John West
Alex Gregory (Leander Club, Wormington, 11/03/84)
Pete Reed (Leander Club, Nailsworth, Glos, 27/07/81)
Tom James (Molesey BC, Wrexham, 11/03/84)
Andrew Triggs Hodge (Molesey BC, Hebden, N. Yorks, 03/03/79)
Coach: Jürgen Grobler
Alex Partridge (Leander Club, Alton, Hants, 25/01/81)
James Foad (Molesey BC, Southampton, 20/03/87)
Tom Ransley (York City RC, Cambridge, 06/09/85)
Richard Egington (Leander Club, Knutsford, 26/02/79)
Mohamed Sbihi (Molesey BC, Surbiton, 27/03/88)
Greg Searle (Molesey BC, Marlow, 20/03/72)
Matt Langridge (Leander Club, Northwich, 20/05/83)
Constantine Louloudis (Leander Club, London, 15/09/91)
Phelan Hill (cox) (Leander Club, Bedford, 21/07/79)
Coaches: Christian Felkel & John West
Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers School, Coleraine, 09/05/83)
Coach: Bill Barry
Bill Lucas (London RC, Kingswear, 13/09/87)
Sam Townsend (Reading Univ BC, Reading, 26/11/85)
Coach: Mark Earnshaw
Stephen Rowbotham (Leander Club, Winscombe, Somerset, 11/11/81)
Charles Cousins (Reading Univ BC, Willingham, Cambs, 13/12/88)
Tom Solesbury (Leander Club, Petts Wood, Kent, 23/09/90)
Matthew Wells (Leander Club, Hexham, Northumberland, 19/04/79)
Coach: Mark Banks
Marcus Bateman (Leander Club, Torquay, 16/09/82)
Cameron Nichol (Molesey BC, London, 26/06/87)
Sophie Hosking (London RC, Wimbledon, 25/01/86)
Katherine Copeland (Tees RC. Ingleby Barwick, Stockton-on-Tees, 01/12/90)
Coach: Paul Reedy
Peter Chambers (Oxford Brookes Univ BC, Coleraine, 14/03/90)
Rob Williams (London RC, Maidenhead, 21/01/85)
Richard Chambers (Leander Club, Coleraine, 10/06/85)
Chris Bartley (Leander Club, Chester, 02/02/84)
Coach: Rob Morgan
Zac Purchase (Marlow RC, Tewkesbury, 02/05/86)
Mark Hunter (Leander Club, Romford, Essex, 01/07/78)
Coach: Darren Whiter
Adam Freeman-Pask (Imperial College BC, Windsor, 19/6/85)
David Tanner: Team Leader
Maurice Hayes: Equipment Manager
Ann Redgrave: Doctor
John Tetley: Boatman
Mark Edgar: Physio / Head of Rowing Medical Service
Caroline Searle: Press Officer
Sally Brown: Physio
Maggie Netto: Asst. Team Leader *
Liz Arnold: Physio
Jo Bates: Administrator *
Karen Burn: Physio *
Mark Homer: Sports Scientist
Craig Williams: Sports Scientist
Chris Shambrook: Psychologist *
Alistair Patterson: Performance Analyst *
* Non-Accredited Team Support
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