Mahe Drysdale spearheaded a top New Zealand effort at the Olympic rowing today at Eton Dorney. Drysdale, five times a world champion, moved effortlessly into the single sculls semi-finals when he won his heat by nearly two seconds. With the first three to progress, Drysdale was never under any pressure. He had the lead by the halfway point and relentlessly moved further ahead. His winning time was 6min 54.86s, well ahead of second-placed Belgian Tim Maeyens and Lithuanias Mindaugas Griskonis. Drysdale was a favourite to win the single sculls gold medal in Beijing four years ago, but was unfortunately struck down with illness and did well in the end to secure the bronze. He seems on target to better that result at these Olympics. However, the strength of the single sculls field should not be under-estimated Drysdale was only the fifth fastest of todays qualifiers, who were headed by Briton Alan Campbell and Czech Ondrei Synek. There was plenty of other good news for the New Zealand rowers today. In the mens four repechage, Tyson Williams, Jade Uru, Sean ONeill and Chris Harris progressed to the final by claiming second in their heat. The New Zealanders finished well behind the impressive Serbian crew, but with three to go through, they had room to spare. Their time was 6min 03.66s, the best part of a second ahead of third-placed Italy. Louise Ayling and Julia Edward rowed strongly in the lightweight womens double sculls. Again with three to go through to the semis, they finished second behind The Netherlands. The New Zealanders time of 7min 21.29s gave them a big margin over third-placed Japan. Emma Twigg continued the New Zealanders good work in the womens single sculls. With the first three from each heat to go through to the semis, Twigg qualified comfortably in second place. She was no match for powerful Australian Kim Crow, who won in 7min 34.29s, but looked good in finishing second in 7min 39.07s, more than 13 seconds ahead of the third place-getter. Twigg, twice a world championship bronze medallist, will go into the semi-finals as the fourth fastest qualifier. Double scullers Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan rounded out a perfect day for New Zealand at the rowing by qualifying for their final, but it was a tough race for them. With the first three progressing, they were only fourth at the 1500m, with the Argentinians enjoying a commanding lead. Things changed over the final 500m, when the New Zealanders put in a sizzle burst of speed while other leading boats began to struggle. Cohen and Sullivan went past Australia, then Germany and by the finish were catching the fading Ukrainians. The New Zealanders time was 6min 19.79s, just - 0.39s behind the Argentinians.
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