Zimbabwe: Tokyo Olympics - Purcell-Gilpin Storms Into Rowing Quarter-Finals

ZIMBABWEAN rower Peter Purcell-Gilpin made the most of the second chance he got at the Tokyo Olympics after he comfortably stormed into the quarter-finals of the men single scull competition through the repechage yesterday morning.

Purcell-Gilpin was the first Team Zimbabwe athlete to kick off the Olympic campaign on Friday morning and finished fourth in Heat 3, missing out on automatic progression by a whisker.

However, his result was enough to give him another opportunity to make the quarter-finals through the repechage.

The 27-year-old former St George's College rowing captain won the his repechage race paddling home in 7:35:16 minutes.

But his time was much slower than the 7:10:65 minutes he recorded in the heat two days ago and will have to dig deep into his reservoirs to entertain hopes of making further progression.

The athlete did not have time to celebrate his achievement and is already focusing on the next race, which has been moved from tomorrow morning to today.

"It was a very cool race and it's nice to be in the field. I have another race tomorrow (today) and I am looking forward to seeing how it goes," he said after the race yesterday.

The quarter-finals of the rowing competitions were initially scheduled for tomorrow, but had to be moved to the early hours of this morning due to the strong winds predicted in Tokyo tomorrow.

Purcell-Gilpin will be looking to finish in the top three to qualify for the main semi-finals of the competition to remain in contention for a podium finish.

However, if he finishes in the bottom three he will still progress to semi-final C and D, which will determine the athlete's overall finish at the games.

Coach James Stephenson spoke highly of Purcell-Gilpin's achievement.

"What an amazing memory for Peter, he pulled clear immediately from the start and carried on pulling clear," he said.

"He is great ambassador for Zimbabwe sport; he is a great ambassador for rowing in general. What an amazing memory for him to be running down the middle of the course at the Olympics well clear of the field."

Zimbabwe is also being represented in Tokyo by swimmers Donata Katai and Peter Wetzlar, golfer Scott Vincent and sprinter Ngoni Makusha.

Katai (17), who is competing in the women 100 backstroke, is scheduled to compete in the heats today while Wetzlar takes to the swimming pool for the men 100m freestyle contest on Tuesday.

Vincent's men golf competition is scheduled for July 29 to August 1 with Makusha set to compete in the men 100m dash heats on July 31.

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