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Big opening day for Australia’s rowers

Article provided courtesy of the Australian Olympic Committee – for more news click here.

Australia’s rowers are ready to take on the world’s best on the opening day of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

It will be a bumper Saturday of racing for Australia with seven crews set to take to the waters of Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas.

The seven boats set to compete are the men’s single sculls, the women’s single sculls, the men’s pair, the men’s double sculls, the women’s double sculls, the men’s quadruple sculls and the women’s quadruple sculls.

Opening proceedings for Australia at the Olympic regatta will be Rhys Grant in the men’s single sculls.

Grant will be amongst the world’s best single scullers in a field of 32 athletes, including reigning Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale, of New Zealand, and 2015 World Champion Ondrej Synek, of the Czech Republic.

Grant has been drawn in Lane 3 of his heat, where he’ll be racing against Synek as well as scullers from Paraguay, Ecuador and Algeria.

He requires a top-three finish to progress straight to the quarter-finals, otherwise he will have to race the repechage on day two.

Following Grant on day one of the Games will be two-time world champion and London 2012 bronze medallist in the women’s single sculls, Kimberley Brennan (née Crow).

Brennan has not lost a race since 2014, both internationally and domestically, however she will face tough competition in Rio from the likes of 2014 world champion Emma Twigg, of New Zealand, as well as from in-form Genevra Stone from the USA and reigning Olympic champion Mirka Topinkova-Knapkova.

On the opening day of racing, Brennan needs a top-three finish to automatically progress to the quarter-finals. She’ll be facing female scullers from Mexico, South Korea, Zimbabwe, Sweden and The Bahamas in her opening race of the Games.

Olympic debutants Alexander Lloyd and Spencer Turrin will race in the men’s pair.

The crew will be looking for a strong race in their heat to progress straight to the semi-finals.

The young crew will face stiff competition in the event from the likes of reigning world and Olympic champion, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond, of New Zealand, as well as from Great Britain’s Alan Sinclair and Stewart Innes.

Three-time Olympian Sally Kehoe and debutant Genevieve Horton will take on a field of 13 in the women’s double sculls.

The Australians, who won a silver medal at World Rowing Cup 2 in Lucerne in May this year, will take on the reigning world champions New Zealand in their heat and require a top-three finish to progress to the semi-finals. The field of 13 crews also includes 2012 Olympic champions Great Britain, as well as bronze medallists Poland.

Olympic debutant David Watts has doubled up with three-time Olympian and London 2012 bronze medallist Chris Morgan in the men’s double sculls.

The crew are part of a field of 13 boats which includes three-time and current World Champions, the Sinkovic brothers from Croatia, as well as New Zealand and Lithuania.

Morgan and Watts have been drawn in Heat 3, along with Croatia, Serbia and France, and will require a top-three finish to progress directly to the semi-finals.

Australia’s men’s quadruple sculls, who come into this event seeded No.1, will require a top-two finish in their heat in order to progress directly to the A-Final and avoid the repechage.

The crew of Karsten Forsterling, Alexander Belonogoff, Cameron Girdlestone and James McRae won both of the lead-up World Cups into the Olympic Games, but will have stiff competition in the event from reigning world and Olympic champions, Germany.

Other crews that will be looking to challenge the Australians include Poland and Lithuania.

Jessica Hall, Jennifer Cleary, Kerry Hore and Madeleine Edmunds who are competing in the women’s quadruple sculls and are required to finish in first place in their heat to progress straight to the A-Final later in the week.

The boat class features just seven crews, with Australia’s stiffest competition coming from reigning Olympic and world champions Germany, as well as crews from Poland and The Netherlands.

Racing is set to begin at 8.30am Rio time (9.30pm AEST).

Australia’s remaining two crews, the men’s four and women’s eight, will begin their Olympic campaigns on Sunday and Monday respectively.

Lucy Benjamin