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Tokyo Olympics: Cambridge University’s Imogen Grant and Emily Craig impress to book place in lightweight women’s double sculls final

Imogen Grant, who has reached the lightweight women's double sculls final at the Tokyo Olympics with Emily Craig. Picture: Nick Middleton
Imogen Grant, who has reached the lightweight women's double sculls final at the Tokyo Olympics with Emily Craig. Picture: Nick Middleton

Imogen Grant and Emily Craig have reached the final of the lightweight women’s double sculls at the Tokyo Olympics.

The Team GB duo looked at ease as they won arguably the harder of the two semi-finals in a world best time.

Having qualified from their heats in second place, Bar Hill-based Grant and Craig went one better to beat the winners of the other two heats, the French and the Netherlands, to book a place in Thursday’s final (overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, 2.10am UK time).

In the first of the two semi-finals, the Netherlands crew took a canvas lead in the early stages of the race, but Craig and Grant soon got into their rhythm to get back onto level terms.

They looked at ease as they passed the first checkpoint at 500m with a 0.26sec advantage over the Netherlands.

The wind was making for more difficult going down the course, with some choppy water along the Sea Forest Water Way, and the Netherlands had regained a narrow lead of 0.19sec through the halfway point from the British duo, with the French in third place.

Through the third 500m, Cambridge University Boat Club member Grant and Craig were hitting a higher stroke rate than their rivals, but it meant that they had got their bows back in front through 1,500m by 0.35sec.

At this stage in their heat, the Romanian crew passed the British duo, however Craig and Grant had learned their lessons as they changed gears to not just qualify but to win the race, taking victory in a world best time of 6min 41.99sec.

The French finished second in 6.42.92, which was also under the previous world’s best, and the Netherlands completed the trio to make it into the final, in 6.43.85.

“In women’s double especially, this is a very high quality event. Whichever semi-final we were going to be in, meant there were going to be lots of high-quality crews that we needed to race,” said Grant.

“So it was a good marker to then win the semi.

“It puts us in a really position for tomorrow, if it is a cross-wind and we have to re-draw lanes that gives us that top spot.

“I think just improving race-on-race is something we have worked on a lot, ever since first coming together in 2019.

“Back then we were largely untested.

“From the heat to the semi-final we actually ended up with quite a few days of training in between with the typhoon, so I think we used them really well.”

He added: “Everyone in the final is really fast and really good. It is hard to stay on top for a long time in the women’s doubles.

“It is going to be about who wants it the most, and who is willing to dig the deepest hole.

“The Olympic games only comes once every four years, and in this case five. So who knows what to expect?”

“I think the only thing you can expect is the unexpected. We have another gear to find, and we’ll find where that puts us tomorrow.”

In the second semi-final, Italy then beat the world record to win in 6.41.36 and the USA finished in second place also under the standard, in 6.41.54. Romania completed the list of qualifiers by finishing third.

It means that four of the six qualifers for the final went under the previous world record.

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