GB's rowing record-breakers

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The Independent Online

The GB rowing team has broken two records before the weekend’s finals - there are more athletes at a total of 39 and more crews in Olympic finals than ever before.

Five, including the sculler Alan Campbell and the men’s four, go tomorrow and five start on Sunday, including the two lightweight crews who qualified in semi-finals earlier today and are Britain's first appearance in an Olympic final.

The lightweight four of Richard Chambers, James Lindsay-Fynn, Paul Mattick and James Clarke struck the rhythm they have found so evasive and finished third behind Denmark and France. In the lightweight double sculls, Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter issued a challenge to all comers yesterday by springing off the start with the fluidity of pouncing panthers while maintaining stony faces like the Chinese warriors who guard gates all over Beijing while staring into infinity. They led the twelfth race of their career all the way and brought their winning streak to a dozen. The Greeks Dimitrios Mougios and Vasileios Polymeros, whom the British beat in the heats, won the other semi-final ahead of the Danes, world champions for two years, and Chinese.

The four’s semi soon sorted itself into two packs, the Danes at the front being shadowed by the French and British. Germany withdrew from the other semi because of illness, the Poles came from the back to win, and Canadians and Dutchmen qualified with them.

Hester Goodsell and Helen Casey go to a B final after losing touch with the leaders during the second half of their lightweight doubles race.

There are medal prospects tomorrow, in order of precious metals, for the coxless four of Tom James, Pete Reed, Steve Williams and Andy Hodge, the double scullers Matt Wells and Stephen Rowbotham, and the double scullers Elise Laverick and Anna Bebington. Campbell’s event is a wild one in which he just may hold the wild card. Louisa Reeve and Olivia Whitlam in the pairs are also good medal prospects - in 2012.