There will be some soul-searching for Coleraine’s Alan Campbell after he uncharacteristically failed to make the podium in the men’s single sculls at the second world cup regatta in Lucerne.
While there is certainly no panic, his lack of finishing power over the final 500m will be a little concerning although this weekend of racing came in the middle of a heavy block of training for the Great Britain squad and Campbell had little rest in the build-up.
However, having reached the final with a solid second place in the semi-final just two-hundredths of a second behind New Zealand world champion Mahe Drysdale, he was excited to try out a new race profile that saw him still start fast but more steady which was supposed to leave more in the tank for the finish.
For 1250m of the final, it looked like the plan was working fine as Campbell was out front with Drysdale, Olympic silver medalist Ondrej Synek and more surprisingly Angel Fourrier Rodriguez of Cuba.
It was then that Campbell began to drop back and couldn’t raise his boat speed again, which left Synek to edge out Drysdale on the line and Rodriguez staying on strongly to take the bronze.
“I’m hugely disappointed to be truthful,” said Campbell. “I thought I was better than that. I didn’t have the legs in the second half. Physically I wasn’t able to push on like I did in Belgrade and I’m really not sure why. I felt good and confident and going forward after the semi-final. Today it just felt busy in the race, there was a lot going and it wasn’t as comfortable.”
It’s not quite back to the drawing board but Campbell will sit down with his coach Bill Barry and assess how to move forward but, with the only race that really counts not until the start of August at Eton Dorney, there is still plenty of time to work things out.
And to put his result in context, the defending Olympic champions in the lightweight double sculls Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter were sixth in their final while the GB double sculls also finished last.
There was a bronze medal for Richard Chambers in the lightweight four to go alongside his silver from the first World Cup in Belgrade.
With his brother Peter watching at home as he recovers from a slight back niggle, Richard, Rob Williams, Chris Bartley and late replacement Paul Mattick took the final out from the front and led through halfway.
However the improving Chinese quartet took over from them during the third 500m and, in a blistering race to the line, the surprise came from the unheralded South Africans who finished like a jet engine to take second almost catching China with Great Britain holding off the Olympic champions Denmark to claim third.
Chambers said afterwards: “We came here to try something different and we’ve come away achieving what we set out to do. We’ve realised what works and what doesn’t work and now we just have to work on that in the next couple of weeks.
“Obviously it’s disappointing to come away with the bronze but it was good to beat the Danes who beat us last time.”