James starts his quest for London 2012
Nick Hartland on 22/03/2010
Beijing gold medallist Tom James launched his campaign for London 2012 at a freezing cold Eton Olympic regatta lake.
The Cardiff-born 25-year-old returned to competition 18 months after racing to golden glory in the GB four in China, following a year off.
But the quadruple Cambridge Blue had to settle for fifth place at the British winter trials regatta after forming a last-minute pair with fellow GB cap Tom Solesbury.
James was due to push out with fellow Light Blue Tom Ransley in the 24-boat field, but found himself paired with Solesbury when Ransley was pulled out on medical grounds.
But they made a pretty decent fist of it as the wind pushed temperatures well below freezing, just losing out on third place in a blanket finish.
James and his partner placed fifth in the opening 2km time-trial, beaten to fourth by just 0.06 seconds by Cambridge Boat Race men Fred Gill and George Nash, but they turned the tables in the semi-final, beating the duo by a length to take the second qualifying slot a length behind the Welsh rower's Olympic champion crew-mates - 2009 world pairs silver medallists Peter Reed and Andy Triggs- Hodge.
In the final, GB's quadruple British number one pair headed the six-boat 2,000m final, coming home a length up on 2009 world four champions Alex Gregory and Alex Partridge, the latter being the man James deposed in the GB four in the run-up to Beijing.
The Welshman and his partner pushed up to third going through halfway, but in a furious scrap behind the leading two were squeezed out by Olympic silver medallist Ric Egington and Tom Wilkinson for third by just a quarter of a length, with James Clarke and Nathaniel Reilly-O'Donnell just six feet in front in fourth.
Reed and Hodge's time of six minutes 33.47 seconds was 10 seconds ahead of James' pair, and as they flew out to train in Portugal the following morning, he knows he's still got plenty of work to do to push himself back on board a top boat for the World Cup season and the world championships in New Zealand in October.
Welsh rower Vicky Thornley only took up the sport two years ago, after being talent spotted by Olympic superstar Steve Redgrave.
But the six foot three inch former model is already a world U23 champion after helping the GB women's 8 take gold in the Czech Republic last summer.
And she did her chances no harm by finishing 10th overall in the women's race, won by three-time Olympic medallist Katherine Grainger.
Thornley, like James from the Wrexham area, set the ball rolling by finishing 12th out of 48 in the opening time-trial to make the semi-finals of the women's race, where she lined up alongside Grainger, finishing within three lengths of the 2009 world singles silver medallist placing sixth.
In the B final she pipped World Cup medallist Ro Bradbury for fourth by a quarter of a length for 10th overall, crossing in 8.05.
With 17 seats up for grabs in the GB senior team, she will certainly get an invite to the final trials regatta in Belgium in two months time.
Cardiff University's Imogen Evans placed 40th overall in 8.26 in her bid to win a seat in GB's U23 team and has been invited to the age-group sweep oar trials.
With returning Olympic lightweight doubles champion Zac Purchase heading a highly competitive 42-strong lightweight men's singles field, on the course where he broke the world record in 2006, Andy Davies won a River Taff scrap for supremacy in the six-boat D final, the Cardiff City RC man just pipping Llandaff's Zak Lee-Green to first for 19th overall.
Davies had earlier pipped the 18-year-old student in the opening 2,000m time-trial by 1.26 seconds, finishing 21st in seven minutes 8.11secs, as he crossed only 13 seconds behind front runner Purchase.
That put the two Welsh scullers into semi-finals for 13th-24th places. With only a length covering the first five over the line in Davies' six-boat race, he missed out on a top-three qualifying slot for the C final by just one second finishing fifth, while Lee-Green in the other semi was also fifth in a time just two seconds slower.
And battle was joined for local supremacy in the D final before Davies just held off the Llandaff sculler by 1.4 seconds, winning in 7.28.69.
Purchase saw off 2007 world gold medallist Richard Chambers by half a length in the A final in 7.08, while Welsh cap Dave Jones was second in the C final for 14th overall in 7.25.
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