LONDON - Derek O'Farrell, a former McGill University rower from Montreal, helped the Canadian men's heavyweight four to finish third in their heat, Monday, advancing to the semifinal round at the Olympic Games.
A strong start was the key for the Canadian crew, which included Queen's grad Michael Wilkinson of North Vancouver, B.C., in the bow seat, followed by Anthony Jacob of Vancouver, B.C., William Dean of Kelowna, B.C., and the 6-foot-3, 187-pound O'Farrell at the stern.
"There hasn't been a lot of attention on us, so we were able to fly under the radar," said O'Farrell, 29, who graduated from McGill with a science degree in 2007. "That allowed us to focus on executing a good race and I think that's what we did."
The Canadians were second through most of the race but Germany surpassed them to finish ahead. Australia won the 2,000-metre heat, clocking in at five minutes, 47.06 seconds, followed by Germany (5:49.84) and Canada (5:50.78). The top three crews in each of the three heats qualified for the semifinals, scheduled for Thursday at 5:10 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The medal round will be on Saturday at 5:30 a.m.
"We can be in the mix for a top spot and to get into the A final," said O'Farrell. "That's our goal and obviously there's a little work to be done still, but it's exciting that we can have that speed and continue to tweak it to get more out of ourselves."
The British crew won the second heat, followed by Romania and Belarus. The United States won the third and final heat, followed by the Netherlands and Greece. New Zealand, Serbia, Czech Republic and Italy will compete in the repechage on Tuesday.
Doug Vandor of Dewittville, Que., another former McGill rower, will compete in a repechage on Tuesday for the men's lightweight double sculls, slated for 5:30 a.m. (Eastern). The top three boats in the repechage advance to Thursday's medal round at 5:50 a.m.
Upcoming events for the four other McGillians at the Games are as follows:
- in women's beach volleyball, McGill grad Marie-Andrée Lessard of LaSalle, Que., teams up with pairs partner Annie Martin on Tuesday at 3 p.m., when they play Russia in their second preliminary round contest, followed by Italy on Friday at 7 a.m.
- Victoria Poon, a former McGill swimmer, also from LaSalle, is slated for the women's 50m freestyle on Friday at 5 a.m.
- wrestler Martine Dugrenier, a native of Laval, Que., and the fifth McGill grad competing at the Games, is scheduled for her inaugural bout in the women's 63 kg weight class on Aug. 8 at 1 p.m.
- synchronized swimmer Jo-Annie Fortin, a Montreal native who will enter McGill as a psychology freshman in September, begins her competition on Aug. 9 (10 a.m.).
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