Rowing: Campbell books Olympic berth with promise of more to come

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The Independent Online

The sculler Alan Campbell and four British crews yesterday booked places in World Championship finals here tomorrow and qualified their boats for next year's Olympics.

Colin Smith and Matt Langridge did not allow a slow start to faze them in the pairs. Still only fourth after 1500 metres, they cut a gap of five seconds behind the winners, New Zealand, to one second as they went past two other crews.

The men's four thundered out to a lead of half a length or more, which they held for 1,750 metres before getting caught up in a scrap for the two qualifying places behind them between France, Italy and the US. The French moved from fifth to second, behind the British by 0.12sec. The Italians overtook the Americans for third place on the last stroke, with half a second covering all four. Andy Hodge, the stroke, said: "You've always got to make steps racing. We have to step it up one more time on Saturday."

Alan Campbell sculled his way into the Olympics in a confident race, the other semi being won by his Tideway Scullers friend, Mahe Drysdale, of New Zealand. "Today was a good race. I have a better one in me," Campbell said.

The pair of Beth Rodford and Natasha Page go to the B final for places seven to 12, but their Olympic qualification chances will remain alive if they finish in the top two.

The international rowing federation Fisa continues to investigate the case of the three Russian athletes banned for two years on Tuesday for taking legal substances by an illegal method. Every Russian team member who was in Lucerne, where the infringement was discovered, has been tested, and the Russian rowing federation awaits possible sanction, which could be financial, a suspension of officials or of the federation itself for up to four years.

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