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Men's eight are 'back in this'

With their 2012 Summer Olympics on the line Monday in London, the defending Games champion Canadian men's rowing eight went to the well. There was still plenty left in it from which to draw, thanks to the relentless hours of training in Saanich.
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Team Canada relaxes after finishing second in the men's eight repechage at Eton Dorney on Monday.

With their 2012 Summer Olympics on the line Monday in London, the defending Games champion Canadian men's rowing eight went to the well.

There was still plenty left in it from which to draw, thanks to the relentless hours of training in Saanich.

"This is the type of stuff we've been doing all year training on Elk Lake," said crew member Conlin McCabe, after Canada finished a strong second to Great Britain in the repechage to advance to the Olympic final Wednesday at 4: 30 a.m. PDT.

"I feel much better now than I did on Saturday after the [disastrous opening-round race]. We found our rhythm again and we are back in this. We know that this next race [the final] is the important one and it's going to define us."

Meanwhile, the podiumfavoured Canadian women's lightweight double of Claremont grad Lindsay Jennerich and Stelly's grad Patricia Obee, silver medallists at the 2011 world championships, collapsed to a shocking fifth in their opening-round race Sunday at the London Games rowing venue in Eton, and must now attempt to get to the Olympic final through the repechage starting early this morning.

"We are disappointed, but not disheartened," said Jennerich. "We know that we can improve with each race."

The Canadian women's rowing eight, with University of Victoria Vikes graduates Darcy Marquardt and Rachelle Viinberg, had an opposite result in winning their first-round race in overpowering fashion Sunday to qualify directly for the Olympic final scheduled for Thursday at 4: 30 a.m. PDT.

"The race for medals is the one that counts, so today we got into that race successfully and we'll have to re-focus and go for the inches that we'll need," said Marquardt.

"In an Olympic final, anything can happen."

The men's double - Michael Braithwaite of Duncan and Kevin Kowalyk of Winnipeg - were third in their repechage Sunday and advanced to today's semifinals.

The men's lightweight double of Doug Vandor and Morgan Jarvis, known for their rigorous training regimen on Elk Lake, were third in the men's lightweight double opening round and relegated to the repechage.

At the London aquatics centre, Julia Wilkinson of Island Swimming/Victoria Swim Academy missed the final in the women's 100metre backstroke by the narrowest of margins Sunday - she was an eyelash, a mere 0.09 seconds, from the eighth-place position.

"I just tried to get up and race," a drained Wilkinson said in a statement.

"I did everything I could to not be too nervous. I knew it was going to be tight to get into the final.

It's heartbreaking, but you have to believe you can win or else it's impossible. It's the scariest thing I've ever done in my life. It's horrible to be so close.''

Wilkinson ranked seventh heading into the semifinals after a gutsy opening-round swim of 59.04 seconds.

Blake Worsley of Victoria won his preliminary race but just missed advancing to the men's 200-metre semifinals by a scant 0.17 of a second in finishing 17th overall, one spot from the semifinal sweet 16.

"I was nervous, but in that situation you have to make the best of the situation no matter how you're feeling,'' said Worsley, assessing his Olympic moment.

"I'm happy with what I got out of myself.''

Canada finished 10th - two spots from the final - in the men's 4x100 freestyle relay with a team that included Tommy Gossland of Nanaimo, Brent Hayden of Mission, Colin Russell of Burlington, Ont., and Richard Hortness of Medicine Hat.

In men's beach volleyball, six-foot-seven Martin Reader of the Comox Valley and Josh Binstock of Toronto fell to 1-1 at Horse Guards Parade after losing a pivotal match 21-14, 21-18 to Norway on Monday.

They must now beat world No. 3 Brazil on Wednesday at noon PDT in order to advance to the second round.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com