London 2012 Day 3: Grainger and Watkins set Olympic best

Britain made four starts at Eton-Dorney today and all four boats moved to the next round – three with relative ease, one with a big dose of drama en route.

Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins, in the women’s double scull, and the men’s four made it all look easy. They won their heats by considerable margins, leading from the front from the outset.

Grainger and Watkins, who recorded an Olympic best time of 6:44.33, are now through to the final on Friday and the men’s four of Andrew Triggs Hodge, Tom James, Peter Reed and Alex Gregory will race a semi-final on Thursday.

“Part of me thought it would be good to see how fast we could go today and we certainly have more but the final is the big one,” said Grainger. “No-one will remember on Friday who won the heat. It’s a new job to do.”

Watkins added: “Today was a wonderful bonus and a fantastic confidence boost that we are on absolutely on track.”

The Team GB men’s eight were winners of a sparkling repechage in which the home combination produced a strong first half and then controlled the race to win in 5:26.85. Their final is on Wednesday.

The women’s quadruple scull of Beth Rodford, Melanie Wilson, Frances Houghton and Debbie Flood hauled themselves back from sixth place at halfway to qualify for Wednesday’s final in third place, with only four progressing.

GB Rowing Team Performance Director David Tanner said: “We’ve had an excellent day today with the men’s four and the women’s double showing their standard in winning their heats and the men’s eight and women’s quad both qualifying for their A finals through the repechage.

“With all the heats completed we have placed ourselves in a strong position to step through the next rounds and gain more A final places in the next few days”.

Tomorrow’s race programme sees semi-finals for the men’s double scull and lightweight men’s four whilst the women’s eight will race a repechage in which four places for the final will be up for grabs.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE ROWERS?

Tomorrow’s race programme starts at 09.30. The Team GB women’s eight, stroked by Vicky Thornley and coxed by Caroline O’Connor, will be the first in action for the home side at 10.50 in their repechage from which the top four progress to Thursday’s final.

Alan Campbell races his quarter-final of the men’s single scull at 11.10. A top-three finish would see him through to the semis on Wednesday.

Sam Townsend and Bill Lucas reached their semi of the men’s double, starting at 12.30 tomorrow, with a storming second place behind the New Zealanders who are World Champions in a very fast heat on Saturday.

Brothers Richard and Peter Chambers plus Chris Bartley and Rob Williams will feature in Team GB’s final race of the day at 12.40. They won their lightweight men’s four heat in style earlier in the programme and have avoided some of their big rivals – China, Denmark and South Africa – in tomorrow’s semis.

Open All

Race Report

The Olympic best time in the women’s double scull had stood until today since 1992. At Eton-Dorney this morning Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins were good enough to take almost five full seconds off the time that Germany set in Barcelona.

After 20 strokes they were more than half a length up over the field and quickly established a large lead from then onwards. Behind them New Zealand and China battled bow-ball to bow-ball before the Antipodeans prevailed to take the qualifying slot and forcing China into the repechage.

“We could not be in a better place mentally,” said Watkins. “We know that we’ve got more and we know exactly how to get that out of ourselves. The final is what it’s all about.”

Andrew Triggs Hodge stroked the men’s four into a commanding lead, too, in their heat. By halfway they were three seconds up on the field with Romania in second and Belarus in third. Those three crews held their positions and progressed to the semis, leaving the Czech Republic to face a repechage.

“You always have a few nerves going on in a heat but now we know what we’ve got and what we can do and now we start to race,” said Triggs Hodge, who would not be drawn on GB’s chances ahead.

“I don’t know what the other guys [the opposition] have in them, I know it’s going to be a big battle but I feel like we are going to be right there in the mix.”

Tom James said: “We are just trying to enjoy it all. We know that there are big expectations on us but we have a sense that everyone is being very supportive.”

Alex Gregory said: “Today was good – not perfect but it’s what we wanted to do. We did not want to show everything too much.”

There was a sense of “next step achieved” about the men’s eight today. They got out quickly and were definitely in the driving seat by halfway in a repechage played out in breezy but sunny conditions to the soundtrack of a very loud home crowd.

From the front they could watch and respond to the three-way battle developing behind them between Canada – who took second in 5:27.41 to GB’s 5:26.85 – and the Netherlands and Australia who were third and fourth respectively.

Beijing silver medallist Alex Partridge said: “I think we have taken a lot away from today, I think we have learnt something. If we had won the heat the other day and not raced this repechage we wouldn’t know what we know about ourselves now. We will take that into the final.”

Home supporters were given a few heart-stopping moments though by the GB women’s quadruple scull. Debbie Flood, Beth Rodford, Melanie Wilson and Frances Houghton had to dig deep in a second-half charge to haul back from sixth to third place with only four going through.

In the early phases Australia took a lead and never looked uncomfortable from there. China, the USA and New Zealand looked more likely to feature in the final at the halfway point.

Inexorably the experienced GB crew – with two double Olympic silver medallists and a former World Champion on board – battled back into the picture. Their pressure probably contributed to the New Zealanders catching a boat-stopping crab at just beyond the 1,500m mark and their sheer tenacity saw them edge past China by mere tenths of a second in the final 30 strokes.

Houghton said: “It was such a tight race and it’s a real relief to be in the final. It’s great to be in the Olympic final. It was probably the most pressure we’ve been under in a race and now we want to go out and enjoy the final, see what we can do and just let go”.

Wilson added: “I was definitely aware that we were down at one point and then I could feel that we were moving through so I think everyone was just eyes-in and everyone was saying to themselves that what we were doing was working and just to keep going.”

Rodford said: “You just have to keep going. We were definitely moving through at the end. You never want to down off the start and that wasn’t our best start but we are confident in our mid-pace and our finish.”

Flood said: “It was a pretty emotional race. We really held our nerve, we knew that they weren’t getting away from us. We just had to trust that we were doing the right thing. We just gritted our teeth and just kept pushing from that halfway mark. The crowd was fantastic, they were so loud. They mean that you are going to get every ounce of effort out of yourself.”

Race Results

RESULTS
London 2012 Olympic Games Regatta
July 28 – August 4, 2012
(Events featuring GB crews only. For full results visit London2012.com)

Monday July 30

Repechages

WOMEN

Quadruple Scull (1-4 to the A final, 5… to B final)

1. Australia 6:18.80
2. United States 6:19.49
3. Melanie Wilson/Debbie Flood/Frances Houghton/Beth Rodford (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:21.65
4. China 6:21.98
5. Poland 6:23.19
6. New Zealand 6:48.71

MEN

Eight (1-4 to A final, 5… to B final)

1. Alex Partridge/James Foad/Tom Ransley/Ric Egington/Moe Sbihi/Greg Searle/Matt Langridge/Constantine Louloudis/Phelan Hill (cox) (GREAT BRITAIN) 5:26.85
2. Canada 5:27.41
3. Netherlands 5:27.98
4. Australia 5:28.67
5. Poland 5:30.34
6. Ukraine 5:42.19

Heats

WOMEN

Double Scull (1-2 to A final, 3… to repechage)

1. Anna Watkins/Katherine Grainger (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:44.33
2. Fiona Paterson/Anna Reymer (New Zealand) 6:49.44
3. Min Wang/Weiwei Zhu (China) 6:50.64
4. Inge Janssen/Elisabeth Hogerwerf (Netherlands) 7:00.10
5. Lenka Antosova/Jitka Antosova (Czech Republic) 7:05.05

MEN

Four (1-3 to semi-final, 4… to repechage)

1. Alex Gregory/Pete Reed/Tom James/Andrew Triggs-Hodge (GREAT BRITAIN) 5:50.27
2. Romania. 5:52.87
3. Belarus 5:53.26
4. Czech Republic 5:54.37

Crew List

Crews listed Bow to Stroke followed by
(Club, Home Town, Date of Birth)

OPEN WOMEN

Pair
Helen Glover (Minerva Bath, Penzance, 17/06/86)
Heather Stanning (Army RC, Lossiemouth, 26/01/85)
Coach: Robin Williams

Eight
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

Double Scull
Anna Watkins (Leander Club, Leek, Staffs, 13/02/83)
Katherine Grainger (St Andrew BC, Aberdeen, 12/11/75)
Coach: Paul Thompson

Quadruple Scull
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

Spares
Jo Cook (Leander Club, Sunbury-on-Thames, 22/03/84)
Emily Taylor (Leander Club, Lincoln, 28/06/87)

OPEN MEN

Pair
George Nash (Molesey BCGuildford, 02/10/89)
Will Satch (Leander Club, Henley-on-Thames, 09/06/89)
Coaches: Christian Felkel & John West

Four
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

Eight
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

Single Scull
Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers School, Coleraine, 09/05/83)
Coach: Bill Barry

Double Scull
Bill Lucas (London RC, Kingswear, 13/09/87)
Sam Townsend (Reading Univ BC, Reading, 26/11/85)
Coach: Mark Earnshaw

Quadruple Scull
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

Spares
Marcus Bateman (Leander Club, Torquay, 16/09/82)
Cameron Nichol (Molesey BC, London, 26/06/87)

LIGHTWEIGHT WOMEN

Double Scull
Sophie Hosking (London RC, Wimbledon, 25/01/86)
Katherine Copeland (Tees RC. Ingleby Barwick, Stockton-on-Tees, 01/12/90)
Coach: Paul Reedy

LIGHTWEIGHT MEN

Four
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

Double Scull

Zac Purchase (Marlow RC, Tewkesbury, 02/05/86)
Mark Hunter (Leander Club, Romford, Essex, 01/07/78)
Coach: Darren Whiter

Spare
Adam Freeman-Pask (Imperial College BC, Windsor, 19/6/85)

TEAM SUPPORT
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

Contact Info

For background information about the The GB Rowing Team contact the Press office via comms@gbrowingteam.org.uk or 07831 755351

For picture requests please contact: GBRTpressoffice@gbrowingteam.org.uk

GB Rowing Team website, including full rower biogs: www.gbrowingteam.org.uk

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