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Start of a medal run for SA rowers?

2016-08-11 17:17
Lawrence Brittain (left) and Shaun Keeling (Getty)

Rio de Janeiro - South Africa has its third silver medal of the 2016 Rio Olympics and it came in the rowing Men's Pairs through Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling on Thursday.

There could be more medals for Team South Africa after the Women's Pairs, Lightweight Women's Double Sculls, Lightweight Men's Double Sculls and Men's Four teams all progressed through their semi-finals at Lagoa Stadium on Thursday. 

All four of those finals take place on Friday.

But Thursday was all about Brittain and Keeling. 

The South African boat looked like it may be out of touch when it went through 4th after 1500m. 

Brittain, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014, and Keeling were then quicker than anyone else through the final 500m and they powered past the Italians and Great Britain to come home behind the favourites of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond from New Zealand.

It still hadn't quite sunk in for Keeling at the end of the race.

"I haven't even thought about that," he said minutes after the race when asked about the magnitude of what he had just achieved for Team South Africa and the country.

"It's awesome getting an Olympic silver medal.

"Obviously we haven't got the medal yet but I just want to hold that thing; I cannot wait."

Brittain described the race and the troubles the pair experienced through the middle section.

"We had a pretty good start and we were leading for a bit, but we were just struggling to find some rhythm," he said.

"Through the second 500 we were a little bit bouncy and tense in the shoulders and then coming through the half-way mark we were sitting in 4th and it all started happening.

"We suddenly grew in confidence and through the last 500 we managed to put the big work in and then suddenly we found ourselves in 2nd."

Brittain added that he and Keeling had been motivated by the South African dominance they had witnessed in the morning's semi-finals.

"We had so much confidence from when we saw the rest of the team coming in and all of them making finals," he said.

"Especially the Fours. We've been training against them all season so it's nice to cheer for them and they gave us the confidence to get on and give a big performance."

Brittain said he was hopeful that Team South Africa could bag more rowing medals on Friday.

"Hopefully they can take confidence that the team is fast and if we put the big races on we will come home with some more bling," he said.

Lloyd Burnard is Sport24's correspondent in Rio de Janeiro for the duration of the 2016 Olympics ...

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