OLYMPIC champion Alex Gregory smashed the European record in the men’s four in the Serbian city of Belgrade yesterday.
Racing in the heats of the European Championships, the Wormington rower wasted no time in getting his season underway, leading from the front with a dominant performance.
Gregory, racing with double Olympic champion Andy Triggs Hodge and Olympic bronze medallists George Nash and Mo Sbihi, crossed the line first in five minutes, 49 seconds to lower the new standard.
The four qualified directly for the semi-final today with the fastest time (11.34/11.41am) alongside Greece, who were chasing hard to the line just over a second behind.
Finish in the top three this morning in the semi-final and Gregory’s crew will race for the European title tomorrow at 11.18am.
There was another promising result for Gloucester rower Beth Rodford racing in the women’s quadruple sculls.
Rowing with a new crew, the former Hucclecote resident finished second in her heat behind Poland to qualify directly for the final tomorrow (11.33am).
Clocking 6.21.46, the British women edged third-placed Netherlands out of a direct qualifying spot by less than a second, though Belarus and Germany both recorded faster times in the second heat.
But the men’s eight, with Nailsworth double Olympic champion Pete Reed and Chipping Campden rower Matt Gotrel on board, finished third in their heat and must race in the repechage later today (12.19/12.26pm) for a second chance at making the final.
The up-and-coming eight started slowly and moved through the field throughout the race, finishing in 5.31.35 behind Belarus and winners Poland.
Their time was the fifth fastest of the day and the Brits will have work to do to win a medal in tomorrow’s final (1.33pm), as Olympic champions Germany and Russia finished first and second in the first heat.