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Tokyo Olympics: Emily Craig helps Great Britain reach semi-finals of the lightweight women’s double sculls

High winds are headed for Tokyo but Emily Craig ensured her Olympic rowing hopes weren’t blown off course by cruising into the semi-finals of the lightweight women’s double sculls.

Adverse weather bringing “high winds and strong gusts creating potentially unrowable racing conditions” on Monday, according to a World Rowing Executive Committee statement, caused the rowing schedule to be changed at short notice.

Great Britain rower Emily Craig. Picture: British Rowing (48974528)
Great Britain rower Emily Craig. Picture: British Rowing (48974528)

Monday’s races were brought forward a day, while some of Sunday’s were moved to Saturday, with the already-timetabled contests also starting earlier.

But that didn’t deter Pembury-born rower Craig who, alongside Imogen Grant, booked their place in the lightweight double sculls semi-finals on Tuesday by finishing second in their heat on Saturday morning.

The Team GB duo led at the 1,500m mark but were overhauled by Romania in the final 500m, yet still laid down the second-fastest time across all three heats (7:03.29) - leaving Craig satisfied.

“It’s definitely the best opening race we have had in a regatta so far,” she explained. “It’s our fourth regatta as a crew together, so that’s really encouraging.

“We were fastest to 1500, which is a good place to be and we’ll be looking to step it on each time we go down the trap.

“We weighed in two hours before the race but we were up at 5am. I think because of the jet lag, getting up at 5am hasn’t been as painful as in the UK.

“It’s almost just adjusting to another hour of time difference.”

At the moment, the semi-final is scheduled to be on Tuesday morning but Craig’s boatmate Grant insists the duo are ready for whatever further schedule alterations may be thrown their way.

“It’s one day at a time,” explained Grant. “We’re going to have to be a bit flexible with the weather, obviously the racing times were shifted today and it’s entirely possible that is going to happen again.

“We absolutely did the job in making sure that we don’t have a repechage to deal with, whereas other crews will which is a benefit for us.

“We’re used to racing at World Cups and having that format of back-to-back racing, and if that is what it comes down to here as well, we know how we’re going to deal with it.”

Elsewhere on Saturday morning, Rochester’s Sara Parfett got her Olympic rowing campaign under way in the women’s eight.

They British boat struggled from the off at Sea Forest Waterway and eventually came home fourth of four in their heat, meaning they face a repechage if they’re to progress to the A final.

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