World Rowing Championships: Great Britain crews win five gold medals on day one of finals

Great Britain won five golds at the World Rowing Championships in Belgrade on day one of the finals in the Olympic and Paralympic boat classes.

The women's quadruple sculls, men's four and lightweight women's double sculls were joined on the top step of the podium by the PR2 mixed double sculls and PR3 mixed coxed four.

There was also a silver medal for the men's pair and a bronze for the women's four as the GB squad made a statement of intent with the Paris Olympics 10 months away.

The women's quadruple sculls - Lauren Henry, Hannah Scott, Lola Anderson and Georgie Brayshaw - were involved in one of the races of the day as they went stroke for stroke with the Netherlands from start to finish.

Even just a couple of hundred metres before the line it could have gone either way, but the GB quartet found another gear and shifted ahead to win by 0.67 seconds.

The men's four of Oli Wilkes, David Ambler, Matt Aldridge and Freddie Davidson lived up to the expectations of being favourites by staying in front of the USA and New Zealand.

There were no mistakes by Emily Craig and Imogen Grant as they defended their lightweight women's double sculls title in style, leading through every marker and looking in absolute control across the line with the USA and Romania making up the top three.

The GB women's quadruple sculls edged out the Netherlands in their final on Saturday
The GB women's quadruple sculls edged out the Netherlands in their final on Saturday

'Gold in both Paralympic finals'

Great Britain struck gold in both Paralympic finals. The PR3 mixed coxed four of Frankie Allen, Giedre Rakauskaite, Morgan Fice-Noyes, Ed Fuller and cox Erin Kennedy retained their title and kept their unbeaten record as they took victory ahead of the USA and Germany.

"I'm actually very shaky. That's the race you dream about. It's amazing to have the field so close and pushing us. We had to row our absolute best, and I'm just so proud of the team. They responded to everything I asked for, and I asked a lot," said Kennedy, who missed last year's World Championships as she was recovering from cancer treatment.

It was the perfect birthday present for Gregg Stevenson who, along with Lauren Rowles, edged a titanic battle against China's Tokyo 2020 bronze medallists Liu Shuang and Jiang Jijian to win the PR2 mixed double sculls.

In the men's pair final it was the duo from County Fermanagh, Nathan Timoney and Ross Corrigan, who have only been together for three months, who stole the lead early on and at one stage looked like they were not going to relinquish it.

Eventually in the last 500m the Swiss pair moved ahead to take gold while Ollie Wynne-Griffith and Tom George overhauled the Irish duo in the closing strokes to take the silver.

No golden return for Glover

There was no golden return for double Olympic champion Helen Glover in the women's four as the Netherlands dethroned GB as world champions.

Alongside Rebecca Shorten, Rowan McKellar and Heidi Long, Team GB started fast but after the Dutch made their move at the 1,250m mark they couldn't respond and lost silver to Romania.

In the only Olympic boat they were represented in but didn't medal, the men's quad sculls - Callum Dixon, George Bourne, Matt Haywood and Tom Barras - were fourth.

However, the women's pair of Esme Booth and Emily Ford were ninth overall after finishing third in the B Final which was enough to qualify a seventh GB boat for the Paris Games.

The Olympic champions in the men's lightweight double, Fintan McCarthy and Paul O'Donovan from Ireland, defended their world title successfully.

"We were both very happy today. We're in Serbia, we're on our holidays and the sun's out. Those three things, life doesn't get any better than that. Very happy," said a smiling O'Donovan.

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