British scullers keep heads to earn victories

Five British scullers and a four launched themselves into the Olympic regatta with success at Sunyi rowing park yesterday.

Alan Campbell sculled a superb race in the single, testing every element of his ability to cover 2,000 metres after an operation on his knee two months ago. Matt Wells and Stephen Rowbotham came first in the double sculls, and Elise Laverick and Anna Bebington finished third in the women's doubles.

The men's coxless four dispelled nerves about their performance after injury disrupted their regatta season. The last time a British four lost a race at the Olympics was 12 years ago so it bodes well.

Steve Williams, the No 3 man who won gold in the Athens crew four years ago, said: "We came here to win three races, and winning the heat is important for us as a four that hasn't raced much internationally. We need to get more harmony. We did really good stuff in training, and now we need to do it for 200 strokes."

The four led all the way. They were pressed hard by the Italians, allowing them to stay close but keeping in front to earn a favoured lane in the semi-final. The American team took third.

The other two heats were completed in the same time – six minutes – and resulted in close finishes for the three qualifying places. In one, Australia beat Germany and Ireland, while the other victory went to the Netherlands, who crossed the line ahead of New Zealand and Slovenia. In similar conditions, nine crews covered the course within half a second of each other, the fastest being 6:00.40 the slowest 6:03.96.

You would expect Campbell's knee problem to lead to an economical race, and that is what he executed. He had a feisty start, was second to the American Ken Jurkowski after 500 metres but was leading by halfway. Now his challenger was Mexican Patrick Loliger and after another 500m Australia's Peter Hardcastle got his bow ball in front.

Campbell answered with a burst and, looking across a couple of times to check progress, headed the field home by a length. "This is the first complete race I've done since June," he said. "I was pushed by the others and felt no pain except the usual sculling pains in legs and arms. I'm looking forward to the quarter final."

Wells and Rowbotham overhauled the Estonians Tonu Endrekson and Jüri Jaanson to win their heat for a semi-final place. They are in the medal zone for the double sculls, but there is much tasty opposition including "little and large", Kiwis Rob Waddell, Olympic single sculling champion in 2000 who weighs in at 100 kilograms, and the much daintier Nathan Cohen.

Laverick and Bebington have been late starters this year due to illness, and their result was less happy. While Qin Li and Liang Tian sculled like the favourites they are, the British duo had a tussle with the Czechs Jitka Antosova and Gabriela Varekova but they faded away to third place as the Czechs had a real go at the Chinese for the one qualifying place in the final.

The two British pairs, Louisa Reeve and Olivia Whitlam and Robin Bourne-Taylor and Tom Solesbury, go to the repéchâge round on Tuesday.

Today is the turn of the lightweight men's double scullers, Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter, and the women's quad, both looking at gold medals. The men's eight and lightweight four, both with medal potential, also start, as do the women's eight and the lightweight women's double scullers.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice