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Ulster rower Joel Cassells hits gold standard to keep road to Rio Olympics open

By Frank Brownlow

Ulster rower Joel Cassells has spoken of his pride after winning gold in the lightweight pairs at the European Championships in Brandenburg in Germany.

The victory means Cassells - who was partnered by Sam Scrimgeour - retains the title he won last year alongside fellow Coleraine oarsman Peter Chambers.

Chambers, meanwhile, helped the British four take silver behind defending world and European champions Switzerland.

Cassells' triumph, although in a non-Olympic boat class, serves as a reminder to the Great Britain coaches of the 21-year-old's selection claims for the lightweight four.

"Great to achieve this again this time with @samscrimgeour. Proud as always to rep @GBRowingTeam," Cassells tweeted yesterday.

Enniskillen's Holly Nixon and her GB team-mates were fifth in the quadruple sculls final with Alan Campbell third in the B single scull final.

London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Campbell said afterwards that he had been suffering badly from hay fever over the weekend.

Cassells and Scrimgeour dominated the lightweight pair final and had over three seconds to spare from Denmark at the finish.

Chambers, Mark Aldred, Jonno Clegg and Chris Bartley led the fours final at the halfway stage before the Swiss took control to win by a length.

Nixon and her Great Britain crew mates Rosamund Bradbury, Jess Leyden and Kristina Stiller were going along well in fourth place before catching a crab just before the halfway mark which stalled the boat momentarily.

They eventually finish fifth behind winners Germany and will now finalise their preparations for the Olympic qualifying regatta in Lucerne in a fortnight's time.

There was success for Ireland in the men's lightweight double sculls when brothers Gary and Paul O'Donovan from Cork rowed through leaders Norway in the closing 500m to clinch gold.

Reigning world champions France and silver medallists Great Britain - Coleraine's Richard Chambers, brother of Peter, and Will Fletcher - were missing from the field.

The O'Donovan brothers claimed first place with a stunning performance in the A Final, while Sanita Puspure put in a strong display in very difficult conditions to finish third in the women's Single Sculls Final.

The O'Donovans took more than two and half seconds off their semi-final time to overhaul leaders Norway with a speedy final quarter on a windy day for all competitors. They finished in a time of 6:57.760, ahead of Germany in second, with Norway forced to settle for bronze.

The Skibbereen brothers, who have qualified for the Olympic Games, won silver at the World Cup Regatta in Italy last month.

Puspure finished with a time of 9:44.770 behind Austrian winner Magdalena Lobnig and Latvia's Elza Gulbe in second place.

Puspure also took bronze at the World Cup Regatta in Italy.

The results moved Ireland to sixth place overall in the medal table.

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