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Page last updated at 09:57 GMT, Saturday, 9 August 2008 10:57 UK

GB four victorious in first heat

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Video - GB four win opening heat

Great Britain's men's coxless four began the defence of their Olympic crown with victory in their heat.

Debuting their first-choice line-up, Andy Triggs-Hodge, Peter Reed, Steve Williams and Tom James beat Italy by a length.

There were also opening wins for GB single sculler Alan Campbell and double scull Matt Wells and Steve Rowbotham.

But women's double Elise Laverick and Anna Bebington finished third and must now race in Monday's repechage.

Only Williams remains from the men's four that won gold in Athens four years ago, led by Sir Matthew Pinsent.

They have been dogged by injuries to James and Hodge this season, and took their time to move clear from the US crew but moved clear in the final 250m in the hot and humid conditions on Lake Shunyi.

"Italy were potentially a dangerous crew and we had it as our objective to win that race," said Williams.

"It's given us realistic confidence for the next stage."

We didn't have our Game A race but what we did was good enough

Matthew Wells
GB double scull

In the other fours heats, the Netherlands beat world champions New Zealand in 6'00.44 - an almost identical time to GB - while Australia beat Germany in 6'00.40.

Campbell, in his first race since a knee infection forced him to have surgery, found a late burst of speed to beat Australian Peter Hardcastle by a length.

The races were used as a lane-seeding for Tuesday's quarter-finals, with Kiwi favourite Mahe Drysdale easing through his heat.

"I'm very pleased with that. Two months ago I was waking up in hospital with a very sore knee," Campbell told BBC Sport.

"There's more to come definitely."

Rowbotham and Wells pulled through Estonia to book a place in Wednesday's semi final.

They were two seconds slower than Kiwis Nathan Cohen and Rob Waddell in the previous heat but were unworried, with Wells saying: "Times aren't the be all and end all.

"We didn't have our Game A race but what we did was good enough for today."

BBC Sport's Matt Slater

GB medal hopes Laverick and Bebington were well back behind world champions China and the Czech Republic but veteran Laverick said: "We come back on Monday and put it right.

"We knew it was a really tough heat. We let them move and couldn't come back on them.

"We haven't raced for seven weeks - that's a good wake up call. If we want to get into that final we're going to have to fight like hell."

Aussie favourites Drew Ginn and Duncan Free won their heat of the men's pairs with ease from South Africa.

Britain's Robin Bourne-Taylor and Tom Solesbury must race the repechage after finishing fourth.

GB youngsters Louisa Reeve and Olivia Whitlam came third in their heat of the women's pairs and will get another race in the repechage.

The home crowd was cheering early as Xiuyun Zhang won the first heat of the day and posted the fastest time in the women's single scull.

But Zhang Liang had a day to forget as he failed to appear in the second heat of the single sculls because he thought he was in the third heat.

He was then automatically disqualified from the doubles, in line with international rules.

"This shows we still have some problems in team organisation," said Wei Di, director of China's water sports governing body.

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Video - Campbell eases to sculls win

Rowing medals table

Sunday, 24 August 2008 10:17 UK
Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze TOTAL
1 also show each event results forGreat Britain 2 2 2 6
Men's Double Sculls 0 0 1
Men's Eight 0 1 0
Men's Four 1 0 0
Men's Lightweight Double Scull 1 0 0
Women's Double Sculls 0 0 1
Women's Quadruple Sculls 0 1 0
2 also show each event results forAustralia 2 1 0 3
Men's Double Sculls 1 0 0
Men's Four 0 1 0
Men's Pair 1 0 0
3 also show each event results forCanada 1 1 2 4
Men's Eight 1 0 0
Men's Lightweight Four 0 0 1
Men's Pair 0 1 0
Women's Lightweight Double Scu 0 0 1
4 also show each event results forUSA 1 1 1 3
Men's Eight 0 0 1

Olympics venues map

BBC Sport's Olympic map

Find out about the Beijing rowing and canoeing venue

see also
Team GB photos - day one
09 Aug 08 |  Olympics
Olympics blog
07 Aug 08 |  Olympics
Beijing 2008
14 Feb 08 |  Olympics
Rowing boat classes explained
30 May 08 |  Rowing

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