Rowers open heats with a bang

PETER JONES
Last updated 07:53 30/07/2012
Nathan Cohen
REUTERS

Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan row during the men's rowing double sculls heat

Michael O'Keeffe
REUTERS
Egypt's Mohamed Salah Ghaly (L) celebrates after scoring against New Zealand's Michael O'Keeffe (front) during their men's Group C football match at the London Olympics

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The Marlborough contingent made a mixed opening to their London 2012 Olympic campaigns.

Leading the way, not surprisingly, is Picton dynamo Joseph Sullivan. He and double sculling partner Nathan Cohen produced a trademark blitz finish to take out their heat on Saturday and progress directly to tomorrow's semifinals (11.20pm NZ time).

After a slow start, another Sullivan/Cohen characteristic, the reigning world champs simply changed gear over the final 500m, winning comfortably and setting a new Olympic record for the event.

They look well on track for a final berth, although their numerous supporters would breathe easier if they didn't leave themselves so much ground to make up in the shadow of the finish line.

Robbie Manson's quadruple sculls crew were also in action on Saturday. Drawing a tough heat, they held third for much of the race but slipped to fourth at the line and will race a repechage at 9pm tonight.

Louise Trappitt's women's quad shrugged off recent injury problems to finish third in their heat, shading the much-fancied Great Britain crew. They also face a repechage tonight, at 8.40pm.

The other members of the Marlborough contingent, Fiona Paterson and Sean O'Neill, begin their campaign tonight with heats at 9.20pm and 9.40pm respectively.

Marlborough coach John Robinson has some urgent work to do. His highly-rated pair Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown qualifying directly for Wednesday's final but looked well off the hot pace set by the British duo.

It's fair to say Michael O'Keeffe, goalkeeper for the Oly-Whites, had a mixed bag against Belarus on Friday but he bounced back with a stand-out performance against Egypt last night. With both defences allowing plenty of shots on goal, O'Keeffe had to be at his best to deny the Egyptian strikers and keep the score at 1-1.

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- The Marlborough Express

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