COLERAINE’S trio of rowers made an encouraging start to their Olympic year on Sunday by winning silver medals at the first world cup regatta of the season in Belgrade.
Brothers Richard and Peter Chambers along with Great Britain team mates Rob Williams and Chris Bartley were involved in a titanic battle with Olympic champions Denmark in the final of the men’s lightweight four, while Alan Campbell chased 2010 world champion Ondrej Synek all the way in the single sculls.
With Peter Chambers (right), the younger sibling, in for Paul Mattick it was a new quartet and they were pleased afterwards to have stuck so closely to the Danes led by four-time Olympic medalist Eskild Ebbesen.
Along with China they dominated the race and when the Chinese tired with 500m to go it left the Danes marginally in front and they held a half length advantage on the line.
Peter said afterwards: “We were pretty good for most of the race. A few more weeks training and we’ll be there in the last part of the race.
“We went out hard and tried even harder in the third 500m, we did all we could and fair play to the Danes.
“We will go back and look at the race and see what we can do but this was a good starting point. More time together is the key.”
Older brother Richard added: “To be level with them with 250m to go was good for us because we’ve done little speed work and race preparations.
“We’ve all changed seats in the boat and we’re still learning but it’s a good start and it shows the winter training we’ve done has been good.”
After a strong finish from the Lithuanian sculler Mindaugas Griskonis in Saturday’s semi-final where he pipped both Synek and Campbell to the line, the two favourites found themselves in the outside lanes but showed they had saved enough for the final by edging clear along with Cuban Angel Fournier Rodriguez.
With 500m remaining Synek struck for home and Campbell moved with him but couldn’t reel in the Czech Republic athlete over the final stages.
“We came here to try something a little different and to save as much as possible for the final and we did that although we did end up in the outside lanes.
“I put a lot of effort into the middle part of the final and just didn’t have enough race sharpness to hold on in the end. We still have time to work on things and I’m actually pleased with it,” said Campbell.
The next world cup event is in Lucerne in three weeks time and world champion Mahe Drysdale will have arrived from New Zealand by then adding extra intrigue to the event.
“We’ll work on keeping up my endurance and my technique all the way through the race and it will be interesting to add Mahe to the mix as well.
“This was a nice start to the season and it’s given me a boost of confidence that things are working well.”
In all GB won four gold, six silvers and three bronzes in twelve of the fourteen Olympic classes.