Team GB’s rowers showed their true British fighting spirit as the first day of action at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games got underway in some difficult conditions on the Lagoa.
In choppy waters with Christ the Redeemer looking down on the setting, Alan Campbell got Team GB off to the perfect start with a comfortable win in his single sculls heat before Alan Sinclair and Stewart Innes progressed through to their semi-finals with a second place finish in the men’s pair.
"It’s fairly open and [the conditions] took me by surprise,” said Campbell. “The wind came straight down off Christ the Redeemer straight down onto us. To be honest he needs to spread his arms a little more to protect us a bit more.
“From a British perspective I think we’ll cope with this better than other nations. We’re happy to row in similar conditions and our training base at Caversham can be unforgiving at times.
“Four years ago was the pinnacle. A home Olympics and winning a medal was a phenomenal experience. What convinced me to come back was actually training here in 2015 and coming here and seeing the people and seeing the course meant I knew this is what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be. I’m here to do my best race in what is my last Games. If I can do that then I’ll be very happy.”
Five-time Olympian Katherine Grainger and double sculls partner Vicky Thornley also battled with the water and a competitive heat to record an impressive second as they too booked a semi-final spot.
“We’re at the right end of the scale of who’s racing out there so it’s a pleasing start,” said Grainger
“We were aware of how rough it was but it was very much about what we talked about in practice in terms of being in the moment and the stroke that you’re currently in rather than predict what will happen further down the course.
“We talk about it every time, there is nothing like the Olympic Games and whatever the conditions bring you’re on the Olympic start line and wearing the Olympic rings on your chest and it does feel different and should feel different. It’s the best racing in the world and is a genuine privilege to do this again.”
The lightweight men’s four of Mark Aldred, Chris Bartley, Pete Chambers and Jono Clegg also looked strong in finishing in second and securing a semi-final place.
However it’s the repechages for our men’s double sculls of John Collins and Jonathan Walton and the quad sculls of Angus Groom, Peter Lambert, Sam Townsend and Jack Beaumont after both crews came home in fourth.