Hannah Scott says missing automatic qualification for the Olympic final could help her crew in the long run as she began her Tokyo campaign.
The Coleraine sculler, joined by Lucy Glover and Charlotte and Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne in the women’s quad, finished third in their heat on Friday, 1.44 seconds short of the top two place they coveted.
Scott is now staring down a make-or-break repechage to reach the final through the back door but feels another race can help her adjust to tricky conditions on Sea Forest Waterway.
“There’s a lot going on out there, wind, heat, choppy water,” said Scott, who is able to train full-time and benefit from world class facilities, technology, coaching and support teams thanks to National Lottery funding – which has never been more important in getting her to the start line after a turbulent year.
“It’s salty, as well, which changes the feel of it. There are a lot of different factors for us but nothing we can’t adapt to.
“The more races you get down the course, because of the variable conditions, it will be good to feel them over and over again.”
National Lottery support has been vital for Scott and through playing the National Lottery, players have helped transform the fortunes of Team GB over the past two decades.
The quad are the second-youngest crew at the Games in their class and all four are making their Olympic debuts, with Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne the only survivor from the 2019 season.
In a heat with Germany, the reigning Olympic champions and 2017 world champion Netherlands they held their own, with Scott occupying the bow seat.
They excelled in the first 1000m of the race and were within a canvas of the Germans, who led throughout, and looked to have reeled in the Dutch at the halfway mark.
They couldn’t quite overhaul them to get the top two that would have sent them straight through to Wednesday’s A final, where medals will be handed out.
But third means they live to fight another day, one of six crews alongside Italy, New Zealand, Australia, USA and France to race for the remaining two places on Sunday morning.
Scott, whose National Lottery funding not only supports our elite athletes but is also vital for community sport all across the UK, said: “We knew what to expect from that heat. It was a tough draw, but we were in the mix, in the dogfight, and unfortunately didn’t get the right side of it.
“It doesn’t mean a lesson wasn’t learned. Hopefully we can do it the right way moving forward.
“I’m not upset about it, we’ll just keep stepping on. There’s enough time between races that we can change things and get things right.
“We don’t need to change a lot, just to keep improving and there’s a lot of time to be gained.
“It was good to get the first race done and get the nerves out. We learned a lot of things from that race and hopefully can deliver something better on Sunday.”
Irish world champion Sanita Puspure and Great Britain’s Vicky Thornley made strong starts to their campaigns in the women’s single sculls as the rowing got under way on Friday - the pair winning their respective heats.
Team Ireland’s Philip Doyle, from Banbridge, and partner Ronan Byrne finished fourth in the men’s double sculls heats and like Hannah Scott, were facing repechage races to keep alive any hopes of progressing in Tokyo.
Doyle and Irish partner Byrne always trailed and their sprint finish wasn’t enough to to get past Poland, Switzerland or New Zealand. They were back on the water early on Saturday.
Belfast archer Patrick Huston was 25th in qualifying in the men’s individual competi-tion and will now face 40th seed Brazil’s Marcus D’Almeida in the opening knockout round in the 64-strong event. Rio Olympian Huston was the leading qualifier of the British trio with James Woodgate in 38th and Tom Hall 48th which combined to leave GB as 10th qualifiers for the team competition.
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