Five from seven through to semis

Five of the seven British crews racing in the opening day’s heats of the Bearing Point World Championships in Gifu, Japan, qualified for Thursday’s semi-finals.

The Camelot-backed men’s four and the two lightweight single scullers all won their heats.  Annie Vernon in the open single scull and the men’s pair of Tom Broadway and Phil Simmons also progressed.

Steve Williams, Alex Partridge, Peter Reed and Andy Hodge were convincing in winning by more than two lengths but the Americans were quicker in their heat by two seconds – albeit in a more bunched field.

Elise Laverick and Debbie Flood in the women’s double were beaten to the one qualifying spot by the current overall world cup winners, Bulgaria. Colin Smith in the open weight men’s single faced 2004 Olympic finalist, Tim Maeyens of Belgium, and the world cup medal-winning Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic. Both crews now face repechages or "second chance" races on Thursday.

"Tick in the box, I’m happy with what we’ve done today", said David Tanner the GB Team Manager after the opening session.  "Overall our crews are in pretty good shape. It’s been a challenge coming here because of the time zones and the weather last week which forced us off the water and onto ergos (see picture above  of men’s squad in training) but it seems as if we have prepared well".

"The single sculls did performed strongly, particularly Zac Purchase who, as a youngster, came through today. The men’s four were impressive but their true opposition was in the other heats and we will have to see how the next round goes".

Britain has a further nine crews in tomorrow’s heats with the heats for the two adaptive crews – elite rowers with a disability – taking place on Friday. The repechages are all on Wednesday with semi-finals on Thursday and Friday and two days of finals on Saturday and Sunday. Tomorrow’s heats feature the Camelot-sponsored women’s quadruple scull, stroked by twice Olympic silver medallist Katherine Grainger.

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Jo Hammond opened Britain’s challenge at the 2005 Bearing Point World Championships in Gifu, Japan, today by winning her heat of the lightweight single scull.

Hammond did not panic when Greece’s Chrysi Biskitzi took an early lead.  Gradually, she hauled the Greek back and took a canvas lead with 650m gone.

From 1500m out, however, the Greek challenged back and the two scullers appeared momentarily in perfect symmetry sculling at the same rate and battling bow tip to bow tip.

Eventually, though, It was Hammond who found a little extra to take the verdict on the line in 7:34.18.

"When I crossed the line I didn’t know whether I had won or not. That was a bit too close for my liking.  I knew the Greek competitor was going to be tough as she progressed well through the rounds in Lucerne at the World Cup Finals but I wasn’t really expecting a battle all the way down the course".

Not to be outdone Gloucester’s Zac Purchase won his ensuing heat of the lightweight men’s single scull. He took the early lead but was troubled all the way by Japan’s Ura Kazushige and Lithuania’s Rolandas Kazlausakas.  The Lithuanian was leading at 1750m but Purchase surged to the line to win in 6:58.06.

"To be honest I think I made a bit of a meal of that", said Purchase, who last month won world U23 lightweight single scull gold and is new to this level in the senior squad.  "In the final 500m I wasn’t sure exactly where I was. I decided not to panic and just race my own race".

In the following women’s open single scull Annie Vernon, making her world senior championships debut held on to third place in her heat to qualify for the semi-finals. Sophie Balmary of France took an early lead which she held throughout, tracked by Peggy Waleska of Germany who was second.

Iva Obradovic of Serbia Montenegro looked like she might close on Vernon in the later stages but did not have enough left.

"I didn’t really know how I would get on today as I haven’t raced in the single at the World Cups this year", said Vernon.  "Now I’m relieved rather than pleased to have got one race out of the way. Now let’s see what happens on Thursday".

That will be the day on which the rower  –  who is one of the first to emerge into senior Olympic boats from the Sport England-conceived, lottery-funded World Class Start programme – races her semi-final whilst celebrating her 23rd birthday.

The British men’s pair of Phil Simmons and Tom Broadway put in a strong performance in the opening heats of the men’s pair to finish in second place behind New Zealand’s twice world cup medallists this season – Nathan Twaddle and George Bridgewater.

Trailing in the opening 500m, the British duo appeared to put in a significant push between the 500m and 750m marks to emerge into third place before overhauling the Czech Republic in the final 750m and to finish in 6:26.60. They will also race a semi-final on Thursday.

"It wasn’t so much a push that we put in at the 500m mark", said Broadway afterwards.  "It was more that we got into our rhythm".

In the final 500m I knew that we had got in front of the Czechs and I felt quite controlling".

The result was pleasing for the duo whose preparation was hampered when Broadway remained at home for four extra days to recover from a virus.

New combination Debbie Flood and Elise Laverick in the women’s double scull faced three-times 2005 world cup winners Bulgaria in their heat this morning with only one place in the final at stake. Honours went to the Bulgarians by several lengths with the Britons tucked ahead of Germany to secure second place.  They will now race a repechage on Wednesday and have the ability to come through to the final.

"Today we didn’t set ourselves any targets", said Flood. "We just wanted to race as well as we could".  "We need to move on between now and the repechage", said Laverick.  "We have come here with expectations perhaps of a medal and not just as competitors".

The morning’s finale came when the men’s four won their heat in a time of 5:55.24. In their trademark style they led from early in the race and had two or three lengths on the rest of the field throughout.

"It feels like we’ve been waiting forever since Lucerne (the world cup finals in mid-July) to race", said Alex Partridge who talked about how pleased the crew were to get on the water after two long training camps.  "I know now how a thoroughbred horse feels when it hasn’t raced for some time. It was good to get out there and do something we’re good at".

"We had a pretty good row today", added Peter Reed.  "We wanted to show that we had stepped on in the right way.  It felt comfortable and we moved at our own rate in the first 1000m".

The main threat for the four could well come from the Americans – three of whom were in the four which beat GB’s Athens Olympic gold medal four last year at the Lucerne World Cup.  Only the bowman Matt Deakin is a newcomer to the line-up. In a tighter heat they were almost two seconds quicker than the British today. The Dutch also have a quick crew here.

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(Races involving British crews only)



Single scull

Heat 3
1.  Sophie Balmary (France)  7:21.99
2.  Peggy Waleska (Germany)  7:29.27
3.  Annie Vernon (GREAT BRITAIN)  7:32.09
4.  Iva Obradovic (Serbia Montenegro)  7:36.55
5.  Kristiana Rode-Gulova (Latvia)  7:52.21

Double scull

Heat 2
1. Rumyana Neykova/Miglena Markova (Bulgaria)  6:43.46
2. Elise Laverick/Debbie Flood (GREAT BRITAIN)  6:50.46
3.  Magdalena Schmude/Christiane Huth (Germany)  6:52.19
4.  Marianne Nordahl/Heidi Veeser (Norway)  6:56.32
5.  Eri Kawasaki/Yuki Tamagawa (Japan)  7:23.35




Heat 2
1.  Nathan Twaddle/George Bridgewater (New Zealand) 6:26.60
2.  Tom Broadway/Phil Simmons (GREAT BRITAIN)  6:32.60
3.  Tomas Karas/Jan Ventruba (Czech Republic)  6:35.76
4.  Germain Chardin/Benjamin Rondeau (France)  6:39.20
5.  Bakry El Yehia/Mohamed Gomaa (Egypt)  6:45.03


Heat 2
1.  Steve Williams/Peter Reed/Alex Partridge/Andrew
     (GREAT BRITAIN)  5:55.24
2.  Czech Republic 5:58.59
3.  Slovenia 6:00.84
4.  Switzerland 6:01.40
5.  Poland 6:03.53
6.  Germany 6:04.94

Single scull

Heat 2
1.  Ondrej Synek (Czech Republic)  6:41.77
2.  Tim Maeyens (Belgium)  6:49.65
3.  Colin Smith (GREAT BRITAIN)  6:55.18
4.  Wyatt Allen (USA)  7:02.58
5.  Ronan Matthieu (France)  7:04.71
6.  Lasmin Lasmin (Indonesia)  7:27.54



Single scull:

Heat 4
1.  Jo Hammond (GREAT BRITAIN)  7:34.18
2.  Chrysi Biskitzi (Greece)  7:34.59
3.  Giulia Cappabianca (Italy)  7:47.28
4.  Sigrid Svarta (Denmark)  7:56.38


Single scull
Heat 4

1.  Zac Purchase (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:58.06
2.  Rolandas Kazlauskas (Lithuania)  6:58.43
3.  Ura Kazushige (Japan)  6:59.01
4.  Juan Estefanell Ucha (Spain)  7:24.47
5.  Mohd Shahrol Mat Saad (Malaysia)  8:08.85

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