A number of main rivals might have fallen by the wayside but Katherine Grainger refused to risk losing her focus as she qualified for her fifth Olympic final.
After struggling to hit their own high expectations so far this year, the British double sculls pair of Grainger and Vicky Thornley appear to be peaking at the right moment in Rio, having finished second in their semi-final on Tuesday.
Poland’s Magdalena Fularczyk-Kozlowska and Natalia Madaj were the only crew ahead of them in their semi-final while their hopes were further boosted by world champions New Zealand and highly-fancied Australians both failing to qualify for the medal race.
Grainger is chasing her fifth Olympic medal in Rio, after three successive silvers and then a famous gold at London 2012.
And, while the Scot’s return from a two-year sabbatical post-London has not always been plain-sailing – she was a late announcement for the team for Rio after initially failing with a late push for the women’s eight – the 40-year-old is edging closer to another memorable climax to an Olympic regatta. Getting a medal is always the most thrilling, exciting, wonderful thing you can do at an Olympic Games,” she said.
“It has been a very tough ride for both of us and right now it’s about getting the best performance out of the two of us.
“If that’s fast enough, then we’ll be where we want to be. We said from the beginning that it’s such a competitive event.
“I know every competitive event with be at the Olympic Games, but there’s so many crews in those two semi-finals today that have medaled in the last two years.
“We’ve just lost double-reigning world champions and the world-record holders, they’ve not made the Olympic final.
“In a way it’s really sad because you know how good those athletes are and they’re not going to be in an Olympic final. But as we’ve said from the beginning almost anybody can take those medals on Thursday.”
The Polish duo will be the team to beat in Thursday’s final with Grainger and Thornley drawn in lane two, one along from the favourites.
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