Boom oar bust for south west London rowers at Rio 2016 day four

John Collins, Mark Aldred and Charlotte Taylor reach the pivotal stages in their Olympic campaigns in the rowing regatta this afternoon.

Having come through the repechage yesterday, Twickenham-based John Collins and partner Jonny Walton race in the men’s double sculls semi final at 2.30pm.

To progress to the final, they need to finish in the top three boats, but face a tough challenge.

They have got an unfavourable lane draw on the outside, by virtue of their tricky route to the semi final, and are racing New Zealand, Croatia and Australia — three boats that are faster on paper — with Norway and Bulgaria making up the start list.

Nevertheless, the resolution with which Collins and Walton overturned the Bulgarians to win the repechage might give them the momentum needed to carry them through to the final.

While they may not be expected to win a medal, a final would be a very good result for Collins and Walton in their first Olympic Games.

Aldred will take his place in the second seat of the GB lightweight men’s four boat in their semi final at 2.50pm knowing that they have an outside chance of a medal if they can make it to the final.

However, the British team face a stern test to get there.

New Zealand, French and Italian boats might be seen as the teams more likely to fill those top three positions and advance to the final.

The British, however, did set the second fastest time in the heats, coming second to the Danish crew who race in the other semi final.

While times are less of a definitive guide in rowing than in other sports, the GB pace certainly indicates good form.

Of the three south west London rowers involved today, perhaps the most pressure will be on Taylor in the lightweight women’s double sculls alongside Kat Copeland.

This is the boat in which Copeland won gold in 2012 with her former partner Sophie Hosking.

Placed together since 2015, the new partnership looked like they’d pick up where Hosking and Copeland had left off, securing world championship silver and then becoming European champions.

The 2016 season, however, has seen that form stutter and abandon them.

At the European championships in Brandenburg, they were only able to secure a seventh placed finish, way below British Rowing’s high expectations.

The heats on day three of Rio 2016, showed no improvement in that form, Copeland and Taylor coming last and therefore entering the repechage stage.

A top two finish is needed for Copeland and Taylor to move into the semi finals, and one of the boats in the race is the USA, who have already beaten GB in the heats.

On their 2015 form, the pair would have breezed through to the final, and they’ll still hope that if they can rediscover some rhythm and confidence they can reach the final, even if a medal is beyond them.

Even so, going out in the repechage will be seen as a distinct failure for Taylor and Copeland.

Related Articles