London 2012 Olympics: Team GB’s women’s double scull set new record

Katherine Grainger & Anna Watkins set new Olympic record as the British women's double scull seal their place in Friday's final

Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins were delighted with their semi-final display after they smashed the Olympic record by almost five seconds to seal their place in the women’s double sculls final on Friday.

The world champions, who are unbeaten in 21 races since they came together in 2010, finished their heat in a time of 6:44.33 as they powered to victory over second-placed New Zealand at Eton Dorney on Monday.

Their display was powerful and dominant from the off, as they opened up a significant lead at the half-way mark before appearing to ease up in the final 500 metres, and cruised across the line to rapturous applause from the home crowd.

“I’m really pleased with our first event, I’m overwhelmed with the result,” said Grainger.

“You can hear the crowd but you feel it in your body, pulsing through you. We’re very lucky to have this incredible support from around the country. It lifts you like nothing else.”

The 36-year-old was always confident the pair would be able to produce fast times, Grainger claimed that the Olympic record came as a bit of a shock.

“To be honest, we were surprised we got the Olympic record. We knew that if there were very fast conditions, we would go for a fast time, but it didn’t feel fast,” she added.

“Anna deliberately held us steady. It was good to see how fast we were going but I think we have more. The final is the big one, no-one will remember on Friday who won the heat. It’s a new job to do.”

Elsewhere, Great Britain’s flagship boat, the men’s four, cruised to victory in their heat at Eton Dorney this morning to book a place in Saturday’s final.

Alex Gregory, Tom James, Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge looked relaxed throughout the race as they finished in a time of 5:50.27 to finish a length ahead of the Romanian crew – their main rivals Australia set a new Olympic record of 5:47.06 earlier in the day.

“We did what we could achieve. There are definitely a few points that we can work on and push for a few more seconds,” said Hodge.

“We are not scared. We know we will be competing with a lot of top-class crews and we are very aware that everyone of them can be a danger. At the start line everyone is a threat.”

Earlier in the day, the men’s eight produced a commanding victory to seal a place in the final on Wednesday.

They set a blistering early pace and lead from the front to win in a time of 5:26.85, finishing half a boat’s length ahead of reigning Olympic champions Canada, while Australia placed third.

Meanwhile, the women’s quadruple sculls made it a clean sweep of British boats qualifying for their respective finals on Monday after they produced a superb fightback to finish third in their repechage.

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