Purchase strikes gold on World Cup comeback

GREAT Britain’s Zac Purchase returned to competitive rowing at the season opening World Cup in Bled – and it was like he’d never been away.

Purchase took time away from the sport after winning Olympic lightweight double sculls gold in Beijing with Mark Hunter and he stretched his unbeaten run to 16 races after taking gold in the lightweight single scull.

 Hunter is absent from Slovenia through injury but Purchase proved he didn’t need a partner to be successful.

‘It’s great to be back,” he said.

“I love racing. It’s what you train every day for.”

Elsewhere, Chris Boddy and Adam Freeman-Pask took bronze in the men’s lightweight pair, as France claimed gold and Serbia silver.

“We’ve only been together in the pair for a couple of months and we know we’ve got the speed to eventually challenge these guys in the future,” said Boddy.

Great Britain have advanced 18 boats into the finals – with 13 of these races taking place on Sunday.

But with many nations absent and five months to go until the World Championships, team boss David Tanner is playing it cautious.

“What we’ve seen here is a great consistency from the squad.  For instance, in events like the men’s open and women’s lightweight double sculls, we have two boats through to the finals,” he said.

“So we really are having a good try-out here across the board.”

Great Britain’s only reigning world champion crew, the men’s four, progressed to Sunday’s finals with ease, where they will be joined by single sculler Alan Campbell, who claimed the scalp of long-time rival Ondrej Synek.