Rio Olympics 2016: Grainger and Thornley into semi-finals

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GB's Grainger & Thornley qualify for rowing semi-final
Olympic Games on the BBC
Hosts: Rio de Janeiro Dates: 5-21 August Rio time: BST -4
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Katherine Grainger and Victoria Thornley are into the semi-finals of the women's doubles sculls at Rio 2016 after finishing second in their heat.

Thornley and Olympic champion Grainger, who won sculls gold at London 2012 with Anna Watkins, built up an early lead but were overhauled by Lithuania.

Alan Campbell, 33, the first Northern Ireland athlete to compete at four Olympics, also made progress.

Campbell won his heat to reach the men's single sculls quarter-finals.

Double Olympic rowing gold medalist and BBC analyst James Cracknell said: "The British fans were all on their feet to cheer Alan and he has not disappointed.

"When I spoke to him the other day, he was here for one medal - gold. He knows he can perform on the big stage after winning Olympic bronze in 2012 but he has to build some confidence after a couple of indifferent years."

Grainger, who is chasing her fifth Olympic medal at the age of 40, and Thornley have also been short of form ahead of the Games.

They could not sustain their impressive start in choppy conditions at a windy Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, and Cracknell added: "This could be the difference between them believing they can get a medal and delivering on a medal.

"What they've done now is they've let Lithuania have a mental edge on them. Right now the only positive they can take is they've got the boat speed, but not the endurance."

Alan Sinclair and Stewart Innes
Sinclair and Innes had to battle windy conditions at Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas

Elsewhere, Alan Sinclair and Stewart Innes are into the semi-finals of the men's coxless pairs after finishing second behind France in their heat.

"They survived," said five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave. "The French rode through the water fantastically and controlled the conditions, but our guys struggled with it."

Men's lightweight four Chris Bartley, Mark Aldred, Jono Clegg and Peter Chambers are also into the semi-finals after finishing second in their heat.

In the men's quadruple sculls, Sam Townsend, Angus Groom, Peter Lambert and Jack Beaumont must go into the repechage to reach the final after finishing fourth in their heat.

Redgrave added: "It is not our first-choice crew - Jack only came in for Graeme Thomas last week - so I would be reasonably encouraged by the way they finished the race."

Jonny Walton and John Collins also go into the repechage of the men's doubles sculls after finishing fourth behind New Zealand, Azerbaijan and Italy in their heat.

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