As the Eton Dorney rowing regatta course saw full grandstands with light cross winds and cloudy skies, the individuals of the single sculls saw a near upset when Olympic Champion, Olaf Tufte of Norway nearly lost his place to a Danish lightweight rower.

Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Quarterfinals
Kim Crow of Australia is becoming quite the sensation. She is the only athlete here racing in two events and so far she has not lost a race. Crow set off in the lead of Quarterfinal One ahead of Emma Twigg of New Zealand. Crow comes to rowing after an injury finished her track and field career. She raced in Beijing in the pair but now is better known for her sculling.

By the middle of the race Crow and Twigg had moved clean away from the rest of the field with Twigg having to look back to see where Crow was. Coming into the line the order remained the same with Crow able to take her stroke rate down to 30 and Twigg followed suit.
Crow and Twigg qualify for the semifinals along with lightweight rower, Marie-Louise Draeger of Germany.

In control, confident and smooth was reining World Champion, Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic. Knapkova is at her third Olympic Games and has been unlucky in her Olympic results so far with a fourth and fifth-place finish. It looks like it may all come together for Knapkova in London and she led Quart from start to finish Quarterfinal Two with a commanding lead today.

Knapkova’s speed left the rest of the field to race for second and third. The 2010 World Champion, Frida Svensson of Sweden got into second , but with a strong threat coming from Genevra Stone of the United States. This has not been a great season for Svensson so far as she has not yet been able to break into the medals. Today, Svensson continued to be pushed by first-time Olympian, Stone.

As the athletes came into the final sprint, Knapkova remained comfortably well out in front with Stone pushing Svensson very hard. Stone, using a 38 stroke rate, had done it. Stone goes to the semfinals from a second place finish. Knapkova and Svensson will join her.

Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark celebrates after finishing first in the women’s single sculls quarterfinal at the 2012 Olympic Rowing Regatta at Eton-Dorney near London, Great Britain.

Will this be the year of Xiuyun Zhang of China? Zhang medalled at the 1996 Olympics and then had a very bumpy road. At both the 2000 and 2004 Olympics Zhang had to pull out in the 11th hour. This season, however, everything has gone Zhang’s way and she has won both Samsung World Rowing Cups that she entered.

Today Zhang gained an open water lead in Quarterfinal Three with just 500m rowed and left the rest of the field to contemplate second or third. Behind Zhang, Julia Levina of Russia  and Donata Vistartaite of Lithuania battled it out for second – a battle of experience vs youth. Vistartaite is the reigning Under-23 Champion in the single and this is her first Olympic Games.

With 1500m rowed, Levina started to really open up. As Zhang sat on a comfortable 27 stroke rate, Levina went to 33 to overtake Vistartaite. Zhang, Levina and Vistartaite advance to the semifinals.

Right from the word go, Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark had the lead. More remarkable, though, was that the Dane was ahead of multiple Olympic medallist, Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus. Erichsen is a late qualifier for London after finishing second at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in May. This is Erichsen’s first Olympic Games but she has been competing internationally for over a decade.

Karsten stuck closely to Erichsen and these two scullers left the rest of the field behind. Karsten has had a relatively quiet season after a rib injury prevented her from doing much racing. But, here in London, her form looks good and she looked as though she was comfortable to sit in second.

But what a confidence boost that must have been for Erichsen – leading one of the greatest female rowers ever down the 2000m course. At the line Erichsen and Karsten had finished a huge distance ahead of the rest of the field with Nataliya Mustafayeva of Azerbaijan taking the third and final qualifying spot.

Xiuyun Zhang (CHN) – W1x – Quarterfinal
"That was pretty hard, I never thought that it would have been like that. I thought that it would be relatively calm, but it was really tough. I might do (Rio) 2016. Beijing (2008) had its own style, there were big differences. I was really happy to compete there in my home Games."

Natalia Mustafayeva (AZE) – W1x – Quarterfinal
"My result is not too great, but I hope that I can make it into the final A. Either way, if I'll be in final B, I'll take part in that race too, as this is a great competition."

Micheen Thornycroft (ZIM) – W1x – Quarterfinal
"My boat didn't arrive for five days but Brazil stepped in and lent me a boat – you know, my competitor. I am just so thrilled to be here and I feel so well-connected now having been among these athletes. There's a lot of athletes who have forgotten how to have fun and why we do this. If you choose to do it, you've gotta enjoy the ride. It's not about work and endurance all the time. It might feel like the Olympics is the end, but for me it's the beginning. See you at Rio 2016."

Frida Svensson (SWE) – W1x – Quarterfinal
"There should be more pressure but I should be more experienced so I'm hoping for better this time around. But it's just another race, another regatta."

Fie Udby Erichsen (DEN) – W1x – Quarterfinal
"The race went as planned. I didn't start as fast as I can, but I was at the front, so I kept the same pace as Ekaterina (KARSTEN, BLR). It was an even pace all the way through. Exactly as planned. I am really happy. I have only been rowing for a couple of years, so this is everything I hoped for."

Soulmaz Abbasiazad (IRI) – W1x – Quarterfinal
"It was a good experience to row between a lot of big, famous athletes. I just say to other women, become successful and get the best result. I hope I can come again to race and in the next Olympics I hope to be better."

Genevra Stone (USA) – W1x – Quarterfinal
"It's great, everyone out there is working their guts out. Sanita really went out hard."

Kim Crow (AUS) – W1x – Quarterfinal
"I love racing. I struggle to see racing two events is such a big deal. We race a lot, all the time. We'll see. You have to accept it's going to hurt. I don't like the word "pain". You're rowing along, breathing hard and you have a lot of lactate in your legs, and it's that worry – can I sustain this? But there's not a specific thing that's painful. The pain doesn't really cross my mind. For me the biggest challenge is that concentration and being able to keep my mind going and my mind willing when my body's not."

Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Quarterfinal

The five-time World Champion and World Best Time holder, Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand featured in Quarterfinal One. The aim here was to be in a top three position to move on to the semifinals and will all of the top scullers spread amongst the four quarterfinals, Drysdale’s main threat was likely to come from Tim Maeyens of Belgium. Maeyens had a wonderful heat a couple of days ago when he not only won but he set a new Olympic Best Time of 6:42.52. This is a first for Belgium in recent years.

At the start Mindaugas Griskonis of Lithuania had the lead. Griskonis raced at the 2008 Olympic Games finishing eight and with his country getting their first ever Olympic gold medal in swimming yesterday, Griskonis must be on a high.

Coming into the 1000m mark, Drysdale had pushed ahead and now moved with Griskonis and Maeyens tucked tightly to her coat tails. These three scullers remained in the three qualifying spots for the rest of the race with Maeyens choosing to sprint the finish at a 37 stroke rate, Drysdale happy to sit on a strong 34 and Griskonis happy not to sprint to the line, dropping to 32.

Buoyed by the crowd, Alan Campbell of Great Britain set the fastest qualifying time when he raced to first in Quarterfinal Two. Campbell was unlucky at the Beijing Olympics when an injury kept him away from a top performance. He has continued on to become a regular medallist in this event. Today, Campbell shot out at a 42 stroke rate pace and then settling to 33 through the body of the race.

Behind Campbell Marcel Hacker of Germany slotted into second and seemed to be relatively happy to sit there. Former junior champion, Aleksandar Aleksandrov, 22, of Azerbaijan sat in third and these three rowers seemed under no threat from the rest of the field.

Coming into the line with Campbell and Hacker comfortably out in front, Mexico tried to overtake Aleksandrov. Patrick Loliger Salas pushed hard, but it was too little too late. Campbell, Hacker and Aleksandrov are the qualifying boats.

Belgium’s Tim Maeyens races in the men’s single sculls heat at the 2012 Olympic Rowing Regatta at Eton-Dorney near London, Great Britain.

At his second Olympic Games, Lassi Karonen of Sweden has been having a great Olympics after winning his heat on day one of the regatta. Today Karonen looked to make easy work of Quarterfinal Three. Karonen is a late starter in rowing and he comes from a cross-country skiing background.

Behind Karonen, Liang Zhang of China and Santiago Fernandez of Argentina battled it out for the second spot. By the middle of the race Fernandez had a slight edge. In recent years Fernandez has been Argentina’s most successful rower after finishing fourth at Athens. He retired after Beijing but came back earlier this year to qualify for London through the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta.

Karonen crossed the finish line comfortably in first rating an easy 31 with Fernandez getting the better of Zhang to finish second. These are the three qualifiers.

This race nearly turned into the biggest upset of today’s racing when lightweight sculler, Henrik Stephansen of Denmark nearly overtook two-time Olympic Champion, Olaf Tufte of Norway in the closing metres of the of Quarterfinal Four. But back to the start. World and Olympic silver medallist, Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic took off in the lead and by the middle of the race had a handy boat length lead over Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba who had pushed ahead of Tufte to be in second.

Stephansen remained well in the mix and was only a fraction back from Tufte in third through the middle of the race. Stephansen has the World Record as a lightweight on the indoor rowing machine and he qualified for his first Olympics earlier this year at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta.

Coming into the line Synek was comfortable on a 34 stroke rate. Fournier was on 36 while Tufte and Stephansen held a furious battle, both athletes hitting 45 strokes per minute. At the line Tufte had managed to hold off Stephansen.

Alan Campbell (GBR) – M1x – Quarterfinal
"All I know is that there's no training next week and I get to see my wife and spend the night at home. I'm hugely excited."

Henrik Stephansen (DEN) – M1x – Quarterfinal
"I am disappointed that I didn't qualify as I thought I had a really good chance, but the other guys were just too fast and they did the job better than me. But I had a great race and did the best I could."

Marcel Hacker (GER) – M1x – Quarterfinal
'll follow my own race plan and my coach's. I don't look for what the others are doing."I'll follow my own race plan and my coach's. I don't look for what the others are doing."

Mindaugus Griskonis (LTU) – M1x – Quarterfinal
"My first day of racing was very bad but I feel much better today – I'm feeling good now."

Olaf Tufte (NOR) – M1x – Quarterfinal
"I don't think Ondrej used everything. I'm (pleasantly) surprised to be so close to Angel."

Mahe Drysdale (NZL) – M1x – Quarterfinal 
"Today was OK. It was a solid race and I did what I needed to do. Today was not the best ever row. The quarterfinals are a tricky stage. You don't want to do too much. The semi is tomorrow. You want to conserve energy. The semis at the Olympic Games are a horrible place to be. Once that's out of the way, you can relax and enjoy the final. Tim's a fighter. It's good to have a little fight. It looked like Synek was fairly dominant. He continues to be the man to beat."

Lassi Karonen (SWE) – M1x – Quarterfinal
"I'm a bit surprised. I thought some of my opponents would start a little bit harder. It felt good to have the lead. I didn't feel like I put too much effort in the first 500 so I maintained my tactics and followed through the whole race."

Ondrej Synek (CZE) – M1x – Quarterfinal
"The race was very good, but more difficult than I expected as the Cuba and Denmark guys were right behind me and they were very strong. I will do my best as I really want to get to the final. But we'll just have to see what happens."