Paralympians make positive start

ParalympicsGB’s Tom Aggar and Helene Raynsford won their heats of the men’s and women’s arms-only single sculls respectively today at the Paralympic Games, being held on the Shunyi Regatta course, to qualify directly for Thursday’s finals and create a very positive start for the ParalympicsGB rowing squad.

Raynsford opened the programme for GB and led the first ever Paralympic rowing race from the outstet before moving further out on the field to record a World’s Best Time of 5.38.44, with Vauchok of Belarus and Snopek of Poland second and third. After the race Raynsford said: ‘I feel proud to have continued undefeated this season and I have had a really good day at the office. Now I need to focus on recovering with a rest day tomorrow and focus on racing to win on Thursday’.

Aggar was the next to race.  He followed in like fashion finishing 12 seconds ahead of 2008 world bronze medallist Eli Nawi from Israel.  France’s Patrick Laureau was third and, surprisingly, last year’s world silver medalist, Dominic Moneypenny from Australia, was fourth.   Aggar commented afterwards: ‘It was good to make it directly through to the final and I expect that race to be very tough; it’s great to be part of the Paralympic Games and ParalympicsGB and I feel very focussed on what I have to do now".

Karen Cromie and James Roberts, the trunk and arms double scull, took third place in their heat and now race in the repechage tomorrow to fight for the final two available A final places.  The duo were pleased with their row today, especially in beating Poland, 2007 world bronze medallists who had narrowly beaten GB at the Poznan regatta last June. Roberts said: ‘We felt strong today and know what we have to do tomorrow to get that place in the final.’

The mixed adaptive coxed four of Vicky Hansford, Alastair Mckean, Naomi Riches, James Morgan and cox Alan Sherman led narrowly over Italy at the first 250m marker but the Italians outpaced the GB four in mid race and GB finished second with the USA in third. The GB four will have a second chance to make the final tomorrow when they face Canada, Denmark, Brazil and Netherlands in the repechage with two boats to go through.

Cox Alan Sherman said ‘We were not so pleased with our race today and can make some improvements for tomorrow’s rep’.

GB Adaptive Head Coach, Chad King, was pleased overall with the GB performances. He said: ‘For Tom and Helene to make the Final directly was a great start for GB and I am confident that our crew boats will raise their game in tomorrow’s repechages.

GB Performance Director David Tanner echoed this and added: ‘Today was a tremendous day for Paralympic rowing and it was really good to see IPC President Sir Philip Craven back in Shun Yi to see our sport in action.’

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