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Tokyo Olympics: Imogen Grant and Emily Craig make progress to lightweight women’s double sculls semi-finals

Imogen Grant and Emily Craig have progressed to the lightweight women's double sculls semi-finals in Tokyo. Picture: Nick Middleton
Imogen Grant and Emily Craig have progressed to the lightweight women's double sculls semi-finals in Tokyo. Picture: Nick Middleton

By Paul Eddison

High winds are headed for Tokyo but Imogen Grant ensured her Olympic rowing hopes were not blown off course by cruising into the semi-finals of the lightweight women’s double sculls.

Adverse weather bringing “high winds and strong gusts creating potentially unrowable racing conditions” on Monday, according to a World Rowing Executive Committee statement, caused the rowing schedule to be changed at short notice.

Monday’s races were brought forward a day, while some of Sunday’s were moved to Saturday, with the already-timetabled contests also starting earlier.

But that did not deter Cambridge University Boat Club rower Grant who, alongside Emily Craig, booked their place in the lightweight double sculls semi-finals on Tuesday by finishing second in their heat on Saturday morning.

“It’s one day at a time,” explained Bar Hill-based Grant. “We’re going to have to be a bit flexible with the weather, obviously the racing times were shifted today and it’s entirely possible that is going to happen again.

“We absolutely did the job in making sure that we don’t have a repechage to deal with, whereas other crews will which is a benefit for us.

“We’re used to racing at World Cups and having that format of back-to-back racing, and if that is what it comes down to here as well, we know how we’re going to deal with it.”

The Team GB duo led their heat at the 1,500m mark but were overhauled by Romania in the final 500m to finish second.

However, their time of 7:03.29 was the second-fastest of any boat across the three heats and Grant, who grew up in Bar Hill as well as attending Cambridge University, is already gunning for revenge over the Romanians later in the Games.

“We know they [Romania] have got a sprint on them but the goal for that first race was just to do something really good and get onto a good mid-pace and get it internal,” added Grant.

“Obviously it was disappointing we weren’t able to respond to them in the last 500 but we’re in the semi-final and they don’t know what’s coming.”

Former CUBC cox Henry Fieldman was steering the Great Britain men's eight, and they were third in the second heat.

The race was won by the Netherlands in 5min 30.66sec, with GB third in 5.34.40, and with only the winner going straight through to the final, the British eight will be in the repechages which will be on Wednesday.

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Old Blue Dara Alizadeh has made it through to the quarter-finals of the men's single sculls.

The former CUBC president, who carried the Bermuda flag into the stadium at the opening ceremony, had finished fourth in his heat on the first day of the regatta, but in the second repechage qualified for the quarter-finals by finishing second to Czech Republic's Jan Fleissner in 7min 35.90sec.

He will line-up in the second quarter-final overnight (Saturday to Sunday UK time).

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