Natasha faces a big challenge

West Runton rower Natasha Howard has it all to do in Beijing tomorrow if the British eight is to claim a surprise Olympic podium spot. The 27-year-old saw her British boat trail home second in heat one and her crew must now go into a repechage to stand a chance of making the final and continuing their quest to land Beijing gold.

West Runton rower Natasha Howard has it all to do in Beijing tomorrow if the British eight is to claim a surprise Olympic podium spot.

The 27-year-old saw her British boat trail home second in heat one and her crew must now go into a repechage to stand a chance of making the final and continuing their quest to land Beijing gold.

America finished first in a competitive heat in a time of 6.06.53, with the British crew trailing home more than two seconds behind.

Howard refused to be downcast after chasing down an experienced German and Canadian boat after a sluggish opening 500m.

"It went really well but we would obviously have loved to have won," said Howard. "But we are up there and there is stuff to work on.

"To come back to the Americans, which is something we have never done before and for it to be tight at the end is very positive.

Most Read

"We are working well as a team and have the right momentum; we have been working so much on simple technique and making sure it is all together and spot on every time.

"We will go out to the repechage and try and win it, be a bit faster off the start and quicker through that last 500m.We have it all to do."

The British crew, who won bronze at last year's World Championships in Munich, is a tight-knit bunch.

Earlier this year - just for team-building - they enrolled on a City & Guilds progression course in motor vehicle servicing and repair at a college near their London training base.

And Howard is convinced that unity and team spirit will see them challenge for a final berth come tomorrow.

"It is a strong field and a tough event. I think we could get a final place, I don't see why we shouldn't be up there and racing to get to the final.

"We can't start thinking about medals until we get there."