Electric atmosphere for semi-finals

[img_assist|nid=1968|title=Men’s four through to the final|desc=Peter Spurrier|link=none|align=right|width=440|height=268][img_assist|nid=1967|title=Alan Campbell produced a sizzling sprint|desc=Peter Spurrier|link=none|align=left|width=268|height=440][img_assist|nid=1966|title=GB women’s eight have qualified for the final|desc=Peter Spurrier|link=none|align=right|width=440|height=268]Today’s electricity at Shunyi was produced by some sensational semi-finals rather than the previously thundery local weather as TeamGB qualified another four boats for the Olympic finals, bringing the total to eight boats and an astonishing 33 athletes through to the weekend’s climax.

Today the men’s single, double and four and the women’s eight joined the previously- qualified women’s pair, double and quad and the men’s eight. TeamGB has the chance to qualify a further three boats in tomorrow’s semi-finals of the lightweight men’s and women’s double and the lightweight men’s four.

"We’ve had an excellent day", said a clearly pleased TeamGB rowing team leader, David Tanner. "Semi-finals days at a big event are always the toughest. We’ve also seen the unique nature of the Olympic Games which has produced some electric racing here. Who could have predicted for instance that all three medallists from last year’s world championships in the men’s four would not have qualified for the Olympic final?".

The men’s four of Andy Triggs-Hodge, Peter Reed, Steve Williams and Tom James won their heat in 5:54.77 ahead of Australia and France in a race where the world champions from New Zealand were eliminated. "That was a good race today but we’re not getting carried away", said Williams. " I’m so pleased to be going into the final strong and with these
guys", added Reed.

Alan Campbell sprinted, in his own words, "like an electrical eel" to the line in the men’s single scull final to secure second place behind Ondre Synek of the Czech Republic to book his passage to the final in a time of 7:05.24 – the first GB men’s single sculler to reach an Olympic final since 1980.

The men’s double scull of Matt Wells and Stephen Rowbotham are also through to the final by taking third place here today in the semi-finals. The measure of their ambition equalled the level of their disappointment in their own performance today. "We haven’t had our best race yet. So now we need to produce it in the final even if we have to do it from an outside
ane", said Wells.

At the end of today’s racing the women’s eight joined the list of finalists by taking the third qualifying slot from their repechage. They, too, saw the need for improvement. "We got a dreadful start and that made it a lot harder for us in the next two 500s", said Alison Knowles afterwards.

Racing starts tomorrow at 15.10 and finishes at 17.50 local time. Beijing is seven hours ahead of the UK.

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"Jurgen is a very wise man and we’ve got a lot of confidence in the work that we’ve done", said Andy Hodge of his coach Jurgen Grobler and the support staff who have helped prepare the TeamGB men’s four to a level where they could produce a smooth semi-final win of rhythm and confidence on a day of surprises which saw the Kiwi world champions and the fancied Dutch four both go out of the reckoning.

Concentrating totally on their own boat and its rhythm the GB four were sitting in second before bursting into the lead at the 1500m mark. Then, in the almighty charge to the line, the quartet had enough in reserve to hold on for a win of more than a second from Australia’s new four and the French who were world championships finalists last year.

"It felt like we’ve stepped on between the heats and now", added Hodge. "Now we’ve got a few more days of hard work to do".

"It’s great to have that kind of race in your semi-final", said Tom James. "We set up such a great and strong rhythm".

Alan Campbell today unleashed one of the most fabulous sprints ever seen at the Olympic Games to secure his place in Saturday’s men’s single scull final by taking second place in today’s semi-finals behind Ondre Synek of the Czech Republic.

The GB single sculler, still coming back from knee surgery, was in third place at the 1500m mark having let Synek and Mahe Drysdale, the world champion from New Zealand, get ahead of him as he kept to a calm mid-race pace.

With 250m to go the line, though, the former soldier spotted his Greek rival for the final of three qualifying places move up quickly. Campbell reacted as he put it "like an electric eel". He took off at pace and held off the Greek and, in the process, sped past Drysdale to take second. Perhaps taken by surprise the world champion also had to raise his game in an instant and sprint to save his place in the final

"I had to use the sprint again", grinned a clearly delighted Campbell after the race. "I had no choice but to go for it when the Greek guy gave it a go. I feel like I’m stepping up with each race. The knee’s fine and any one of us could win the final, that’s the nature of our event".

The men’s double scull semi-final featuring Matt Wells and Stephen Rowbotham for GB was always going to be close. It included France and Estonia who were world silver and bronze medallists respectively in 2007 alongside GB and Belarus who were fourth and fifth in that same final.

Wells and Rowbotham made a measured start and France, holders of the world best time took a significant lead. By the 1000m mark, the French were a length ahead but GB were in the chasing pack of three.

Metronomically, almost, they ground out the strokes. At 1250m the Estonians permitted themselves a glance across at the British duo who were now challenging for their second place. As the register of the Chinese spectators’ commentator rose you could feel the race getting closer.

Reaching the grey, calm water along between the final straight grandstands the GB scullers might have been buoyed by their considerable number of supporters. It was now Wells’ turn to glance across at the field to see if they could take the Estonians. It was close but not a photo-finish. France first, Estonia second and GB third.

"It was close at the end. I think they’ve been learning how to race us. But we’re in the final and we’ll just have to sneak up the outside lane and surprise them", said Rowbotham.

GB’s women’s eight rounded off the racing programme with a third place finish to claim one of four final qualifying spots on offer. Compared to their blistering start in the heats, the GB combination, coxed by Caroline O’Connor, were slow out of the blocks and then had to work hard to get back into contention before trying to make the third 500m work for them. There were a few heart-stopping moments along the way as the crew, stroked by Katie Greves, nudged back into the thick of things and gradually moved up on Germany and Australia.

With 300m to go, you had the sense that they were safe. Canada won, Netherlands second and GB third. Australia took the final slot whilst Germany were eliminated.

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Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter have avoided the Danes and the Chinese, two potentially strong opponents, in the draw for tomorrow’s semi-finals but face potentially testing opposition from the Italians and French amongst others in the lightweight men’s double scull.

The lightweight men’s four of James Clarke, James Lindsay-Fynn, Paul Mattick and Richard Chambers, will be seeking to continue with their return to form here. They have drawn the Danes, French and Italians all of whom could prove a threat.

Helen Casey, part of the lightweight women’s double scull has already said that tomorrow’s semi-final will be the toughest race they have ever sculled and they must have their best day yet to qualify. The Dutch, Germans, Danes, Cubans and Finns will all be seeking to get one of the three qualifying slots alongside Helen and her crew-mate Hester Goodsell.

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(Races featuring GB crews only)





1. Tom James/Steve Williams/Peter Reed/Andy Triggs Hodge
2. Australia 5;56.20
3. France 5:56.73
4. New Zealand 5:57.31
5. USA 5:57.52
6. Ireland 5:58.14

Single scull

1. Ondre Synek (Czech Republic) 7:03.57
2. Alan Campbell (GREAT BRITAIN) 7:05.24
3. Mahe Drysdale (New Zealand) 7:05.57
4. Ioannis Christou (Greece) 7:06.02
5. Ken Jurkowski (USA) 7:11.52
6. Mindaugas Griskonis (Lithuania) 7:20.32

Double scull

1. Jean-Baptiste Macquiet/Adrien Hardy (France) 6:18.86
2. Tonu Endrekson/Juri Jaanson (Estonia) 6:21.11
3. Matthew Wells/Stephen Rowbotham (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:21.15
4. Martin & Ivo Yanakiev (Bulgaria) 6:26.62
5. Alexander Kornilov/Alexey Svirin (Russia) 6:27.75
6. Dzianis Mihal/Stanislau Shcharbachenia (Belarus) 6:32.76





1. Canada 6:10.50
2. Netherlands 6:11.58
3. Carla Ashford/Beth Rodford/Natasha Page/Natasha
Howard/Jess Eddie/Sarah Winckless/Alison Knowles/
Katie Greves/Caroline O’Connor (cox) 6:12.10
4. Australia 6:12.52
5. Germany 6:14.45

C Final

Men’s pair

1. Robin Bourne-Taylor/Tom Solesbury (GREAT BRITAIN) 6:46.83
2. Piotr Hojka/Jaroslaw Godek (Poland) 6:53.68

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Thursday 14
Lightweight men’s double and four
Lightweight women’s double
Men’s quadruple scull

B Finals:
Men’s and women’s single and double and men’s four

Friday 15 August
Reserve day

Saturday 16 August:

Men’s and women’s single, double and pair and men’s four

B Finals:
Lightweight men’s double and four
Lightweight women’s double
Men’s and women’s quadruple scull
Men’s eight

Sunday 17 August:

Lightweight men’s double and four
Lightweight women’s double
Men’s and women’s quadruple scull and eight
Women’s eight

NB – subject to change. Please see Beijing 2008 website
for up to date information.

=============================== ===============================
Olympic Games 2008, Beijing
(with clubs/home towns/dates of birth)
(listed from bow to stroke as at 7 August)




Carla Ashford (Oxford Brookes BC/Northallerton/13.03.79)
Beth Rodford (Thames RC/Burton-on-Trent/ 28.12.82)
Natasha Page (Reading Uni/Hartpury/30.04.85)
Natasha Howard (Tideway Scullers/West Runton/3.9.80)
Jess Eddie (Uni of London/Durham/07.10.84)
Sarah Winckless (Walbrook & Royal/Henley/18.10.73)
Alison Knowles (Thames RC/ Bournemouth/27.3.82)
Katie Greves (Leander Club/Oxford/02.09.82)
Caroline O’Connor (Oxford Brookes/Ealing/25.04.83) (cox)

Coach: John Keogh


Louisa Reeve (Leander/London/16.05.84)/
Olivia Whitlam (Agecroft/Warrington 16.09.85)

Coach: Rob Morgan

Quad Scull

Annie Vernon (Marlow RC/Wadebridge/01.09.82)/Debbie Flood
(Leander Club/Leeds/27.02.80)/Frances Houghton
(Tyrian Club (Uni of London)/Oxford/19.09.80)/Katherine
Grainger (St Andrew BC/Aberdeen/12.11.75)

Coach: Paul Thompson

Double scull

Elise Laverick (Thames RC/Poling, W.Sussex/27.07.75)/
Anna Bebington (Leander Club/Leek, Staffs/13.2.83)

Coach: Miles Forbes Thomas


Tina Stiller (Nottingham RC/Yarm, N.Yorks/23.6.87)
Alice Freeman (Wallingford RC/Oxford/6.9.78)



Robin Bourne-Taylor (Army RC/Oxford/22.07.81)/Tom Solesbury
(Molesey BC/Petts Wood, Kent/23.09.80)

Coach: Peter Sheppard


Tom James (Molesey/Wrexham/11.3.84)/Steve Williams
(Leander Club/Cheltenham/15.04.76)/Peter Reed (Leander Club/
Nailsworth, Glos/27.07.81)/Andy Triggs Hodge (Molesey BC/Hebden,

Coach: Jurgen Grobler


Alex Partridge (Leander Club/Alton, Hants/25.01.81)/
Tom Stallard (Leander/Welwyn, Herts/11.09.78)/
Tom Lucy (Oxford Brookes/Monmouth/01.05.88)/
Richard Egington (Leander/Knutsford/26.02.79)/
Josh West (Leander/Santa Fe, USA/25.03.77)/
Alastair Heathcote (Army RC/London/18.8.77)/
Matt Langridge(Leander Club/Northwich/20.05.83)/
Colin Smith (Leander/Henley on Thames/23.09.83)/
Acer Nethercott (University College Oxford BC/Harlow/28.11.77)

Coaches: Mark Banks, John West

Single Scull

Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers/Coleraine/9.5.83)

Coach: Bill Barry

Double Scull

Matt Wells (Leander Club/Hexham, Northumberland/19.4.79)/
Stephen Rowbotham (Leander Club/Winscombe, Somerset/11.11.81)

Coach: Mark Earnshaw

Men’s Alternates*

Tom Parker (Oxford Brookes/Winchester/24.10.82)
Alex Gregory (Reading Uni/Wormington/11.03.84)



Double scull

Hester Goodsell (Reading Uni/Cambridge/27.06.84)
Helen Casey (Wallingford RC/Oxford/06.02.74)/

Coach: Rob Morgan



Richard Chambers (Oxford Brookes/Coleraine/10.06.85)/
James Lindsay-Fynn (London/Trim/29.09.75)/Paul Mattick
(Wallingford/Oxford/25.04.78)/James Clarke (London RC/

Coach: Robin Williams

Double scull

Zac Purchase (Marlow RC/Tewkesbury, Glos/02.05.86)/
Mark Hunter (Leander Club/Romford, Essex/01.07.78)

Coach: Darren Whiter

Lightweight Men’s Alternate*

Rob Williams (London RC/Maidenhead/21.01.1985)

* Alternate=Reserve



Team Leader:
David Tanner

Chief Coaches:
Jurgen Grobler, Paul Thompson

Miles Forbes-Thomas, John Keogh, Robin Williams, Darren Whiter,
Rob Morgan, Bill Barry, Mark Earnshaw, Mark Banks, John West, Peter Sheppard

Support staff:
Maggie Netto, Maurice Hayes.

Medical staff:
Ali Sanders, Mark Edgar

Press officer:
Caroline Searle


All medical/sports science:

Pam Gardner, Gill Edmonson, Ryan Bathurst, Al Smith, Mark Homer,
Chris Shambrook


Jennifer Song

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