FORMER Chester King’s School pupils Tom James and Olivia Whitlam tomorrow get the chance to go for Olympic gold.
The main weight of expectation is on James, 24, who is a member of Great Britain’s flagship coxless fours crew
The British team, with James in the bow seat, won their first heat easily on Saturday, before laying down a marker in the semi-final on Wednesday by storming to victory again.
The Australians were two seconds behind them and the French four.
Cambridge University graduate James, of Coedpoeth, Wrexham, said: “It’s great to have that kind of race in your semi-final. We set up such a great and strong rhythm.”
Team GB’s plan is to psychologically bully their opponents with dominant qualifying displays as they bid for a third successive Olympic gold medal in the coxless fours.
Chester-born Whitlam and partner Louisa Reeve qualified for the repechage by coming third in their heat at the Shunyi Rowing Park in Beijing on Saturday, beating France and Australia on the way.
They then came second in Tuesday’s repechage, which gave the fastest runners-up in the heats a second chance to make the final, finishing behind New Zealand to earn a shot at Olympic glory in the final.
Daresbury’s Whitman, 22, last year’s under 23 coxless pairs world champion, is currently a member of Agecroft Rowing Club in Salford Quays.
Denise Yarrow, the women’s captain at Agecroft, said: “This is an absolutely massive achievement and Olivia has done better than any of us could really have dreamed.
“What makes it even more amazing is that the pair have only been together for three months. Some of the other teams have been together for years!”