Campbell and Chambers brothers looking good in medal hunt
The Coleraine trio aren't exactly home on a boat just yet, but Alan Campbell, Richard Chambers and Peter Chambers look in fantastic form and are feeling good about their chances of Olympic glory.
They are rowing's equivalent of Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell — three Ulster golfing heroes who know all about major sporting success.
Tomorrow Northern Ireland's Team GB rowers will be back on the lake at Eton Dorney with the Chambers brothers determined to make the Lightweight Fours final and Campbell planning to reach the semis of the Singles Sculls.
If their performances in Saturday's opening heats are anything to go by those ambitions should be realised without too many concerns.
Even if they are flagging in the closing stages, they are sure to be revived by the roars of the fans on the riverbanks who are creating a wonderful atmosphere for all the home rowers.
Campbell certainly revelled in all the noise as he impressed when winning his opening heat.
As Sir Steve Redgrave, winner of FIVE Olympic gold medals from Los Angeles 1984 to Sydney 2000, remarked: “I thought Alan put down a marker for the rest of the competition.”
If anyone knows about Olympic rowing, you would think it would be Sir Steve.
Campbell himself was content with his display and was excited by what was going on around him.
The 29-year-old, in his third Olympics, said: “When I was watching the races on TV before I went out on the water I heard the crowd noise and thought the BBC were dubbing in noise because it was so loud.
“But then when I was racing I realised it really was that loud. It's not like anything that I have experienced before.
“I've been to Henley on finals day where there's been 100,000 people on the banks and it didn't sound anything like it did on Saturday.
“It was phenomenal coming into the last 300 metres with the grandstands on both sides,” Campbell added.
“It actually reminded me of the Crucible in snooker when you have the two matches on at one time and the two sides are competing against each other to see who can make the most noise.
“It was great. Now I know what you are hearing on the TV is what we are hearing on the lake.”
Richard Chambers agreed with those sentiments and stated: “I've never felt anything like it. The public supporting us certainly makes us quicker.”
The volume will be turned up a notch the deeper into this week we go with Campbell due to row in his final on Friday and the Chambers boys scheduled for their climax the day before.
Joined by Rob Williams and Chris Bartley, they produced a barnstorming finish on Saturday in their heat to beat world champions Australia and reach the semi-finals.
The Aussies will have been worried by just how comfortable the British crew looked as they pulled clear to win by a length in the closing stages.
It was interesting to note that Williams awarded the crew just “seven out of 10” for the weekend display adding all will need 10 out of 10 performances for the team to win gold.
“We have come here knowing we can do it,” added Richard Chambers, the elder of the two siblings.
“We just have to deliver it now. We have two more races to go out and win.”
Williams is expecting the Aussies to roar back stating that come finals day it will be a close call.
“We know the final will come down to winning by a foot,” he said.