Confident foursome advance to semi-finals

Great Britain's flagship Olympic boat powered into the semi-finals of the men's four to round off a promising first day of action on the water.

Steve Williams, defending the title he won in Athens four years ago, and crew-mates Andy Triggs Hodge, Tom James and Pete Reed finished a length clear of the dangerous Italians to claim a confidence-boosting win.



Single-sculler Alan Campbell and the men's double sculls of Matt Wells and Stephen Rowbotham also opened their Olympic campaigns with victories.



And while double sculls girls Elise Laverick and Anna Bebington were disappointed to finish third, their medal ambitions remain very much alive heading into Monday's repechage.



Britain's head rowing coach Jurgen Grobler has established the men's four as his first-choice crew over the last eight to 10 years.



It was in the four that Sir Steven Redgrave won his fifth gold medal in Sydney and Sir Matthew Pinsent won his fourth in Athens.



The current quartet are again considered one of the favourites even though they were racing together for only the third time at a major championships today.



Their season has been fractured by injuries at key moments and most of the Olympic preparations have been done in the gym and in training camps.



Despite all that, Britain were comfortable in victory and Williams is convinced there is more to come for Wednesday's semi-final.



"Winning the heat was our objective. That was important for us as a four because we haven't rowed much together internationally," he said.



"There is still room for improvement. We do need to gel a bit more technically. We weren't at our most efficient today. We need more harmony in our strokes.



"We have done some really good stuff in training but there is a step up to doing that in a race, especially at the Olympics.



"There are about 10 boats competing for a six-boat final and you saw that level of competition today. We weren't in the easiest heat but the race was OK. It has given us realistic confidence."



That sense of measured optimism was reflected across the team. The tone was set early by Campbell, who produced a strong performance in the single sculls to seal a quarter-final berth.



The 25-year-old from Coleraine has not had the easiest build-up to the Games either, having had an infection cut out of his leg in June.



Campbell missed three weeks of training but felt no ill-effects today as he produced a powerful start and fast finish to hold off Australian rival Paul Hardcastle.



"I am more than pleased with it. That was my first 2k since the injury. Two months ago I was in hospital. Now I feel there is more to come in this regatta," he said.



"Every race we are going to step it up a little bit more and a little bit more. Fingers crossed, toes crossed, everything crossed that we can have a nice clean run through to the semi-finals now."



Wells and Rowbotham won their heat in commanding style ahead of Croatia and Estonia to reach the men's pair semi-finals and send a firm message of intent to the rest of the field.



"To go in there, put a marker down by winning is really good," said Wells.



"All the opposition will now look at us as a heat winner."



Laverick and Bebington were disappointed after finishing finished third in their heat, behind world champions China and the Czech Republic.



They won bronze at the world championships last year and Bebington is determined to make rapid improvements before Monday's repechage to ensure they remain in the hunt for another podium finish.



"It didn't really go to plan. We had a good start and then the Chinese moved on us through the middle we didn't respond to that very well," she said.



"We are going to throw everything at it to make the final from this position."



The men's pair and women's pair will also be in repechage action on Monday having both failed to secure automatic qualification from the heats.



More British medal hopes begin their campaigns tomorrow with the lightweight men's pair of Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase and the women's quad, featuring veteran Olympian Katherine Grainger, both taking to the water.



Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map