Powerful partnership the key to Olympic success for Collins and Walton

John Collins and Jonny Walton have forged a powerful partnership in adversity - which they hope will be a catalyst for success in Rio.

The pair will make their Olympic debut in the heats of the men’s double sculls at the Legoa Rodrigo de Freitas on Saturday.

But the road to Rio has been far from smooth - a fact which only fuels their determination.

“In 2013 I had a shocker in the trials and I was sent back to my club from the national team,” said Collins.

“Being told ‘you are not in the team anymore, go home’ was pretty tough to hear but my coach was there for me and persistence paid off, so finally being at the Olympics is a big sense of relief.”

However, Walton believes their respective struggles means they’ve got a special bond as a crew - underlined by the fact they often interrupt each other and are prone to finishing each other's sentences.

“In 2013 I was the spare man on the team, which meant I did all the same training but I never got the reward of racing and I watched that quadruple sculls crew win a medal instead," said Walton.

“All this stuff makes you stronger, knowing it’s not been easy. I think, as we have been through everything together, that this Olympics really feels like things coming full circle for us."

Collins and Walton qualified the boat with an eighth place finish at last year’s World Championships in Aiguebelette but they admit they’ve got a tough challenge in one of the most competitive rowing classes.

The double sculls is not an event in which Team GB traditionally enjoys success. Matthew Wells and Stephen Rowbotham won bronze in Beijing but you then have to go back to Chris Baillieu and Michael Hart, silver medallists at the 1976 Games in Montreal, to find the next podium place.

“It’s going to be savagely tight but I genuinely believe that if we can get it right, if we can get the perfect race, then we can get a medal,” adds Collins.

“Our results this season give us confidence and it’s not just about making the final anymore for us, it’s about trying to make our way to the top of that final.

“I honestly couldn’t make a prediction but I do believe that we have potential.”

Sportsbeat 2016