There were silver medals for Coleraine’s Alan Campbell and Richard Chambers at the first World Cup rowing regatta of the season in Bled, Slovenia yesterday.
While both men were naturally disappointed not to have struck gold, in what is a long year with the world championships not until November in New Zealand, both found plenty of positives to take from their performances with the next event in Munich in three weeks time.
Campbell’s winter training was disrupted by a serious mountain biking accident in South Africa that saw him end up in hospital so a second place finish in the men’s single sculls behind Olympic silver medalist Ondrej Synek was a step in the right direction.
Synek proved his pedigree by leading early and holding on. At 1500m he had a big gap over Campbell and the Frenchman Julien Bahain with former world champion Marcel Hacker in fourth.
On the line clear victory went to Synek and Hacker's dying charge was just not enough to snatch silver from the dogged Campbell.
“It was a good result but one I can step on from,” said Campbell afterwards. “All credit to Synek, he raced well. I know I've got to go away and improve now. I haven’t had the smoothest of build-ups with the accident but excuses aside, he was better on the day. Training has been a little different with the world championships not until November so I haven’t done as much sprint work but we’ll work on that before Munich.”
The lightweight men's four final was the closest and most eagerly contested of the weekend. Chambers, Rob Williams, Paul Mattick and Chris Bartley in the Great Britain boat showed they would be a force to be reckoned with as they battled the reigning world champions Denmark all the way to the finish. It was nip and tuck and with 500m remaining Chambers led his boat into a narrow lead. As the tempo picked up for the surge to the line the Danes proved the pacier of the crews and took victory in 6:02.49 — just over a second ahead of Great Britain.
Chambers, returning to action for the first time since the Olympic final in Beijing, said: “It's good to have a lightweight men's four back in the medals. We train to win gold and when you don't it's disappointing but this is a good start for us as a crew.”
Richard’s brother Peter Chambers and his partner Ben Rowe had a tougher time in the lightweight double sculls. They failed to reach the ‘A’ final and were ranked 12th overall.
Co Fermanagh’s Karen Cromie narrowly missed out on a medal in the final of the adaptive mixed quadruple sculls. Along with her Irish team-mates Shane Ryan, Kevin Du Toit, Sarah Caffrey and Laura Purdy they finished fourth, just behind the Germans and Ukraine who took silver and bronze.