Rowing: Campbell sets pace in heats for World Cup showdown

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The Independent Online

Alan Campbell maintained his place among the world's fastest single scullers on the first day of the final World Cup round yesterday by winning his heat to qualify for the semi-finals.

Three British boats qualified directly for tomorrow's finals and four others, in addition to Campbell, to the semi-finals. The men's coxless four, who scratched from Henley last week, were back on form. The other crews who finished first were the double scullers Matt Wells and Steve Rowbotham, the newly formed pair of Colin Smith and Tom James, and among the women's team the quad and the double scullers of Annie Vernon and Anna Bebington. The lightweight single scullers Zak Purchase and Tim Male both won heats.

Campbell returned the fastest time of the day in the single sculls, but of the other main contenders the world champion Mahe Drysdale, the Olympic champion Olaf Tufte and the Swedish sculler Lassi Karonen all won their heats. Campbell currently holds the overall lead in the World Cup having finished first and second respectively in the first two rounds.

Smith and James have been in the background this season while completing exams. Smith was Britain's single sculler in last year's world championships and James stroked the eight to a bronze medal in 2003.