Olympic star wary of Campbell challenge

Double Olympic rowing champion Olaf Tufte of Norway admits his British rival Alan Campbell will be one to watch at London 2012.

But Tufte (pictured on the right above), who won in the single scull at Athens in 2004 and again in Beijing four years later, says the Chiswick-based Campbell must find a way of dealing with the pressure of competing on home water if he is to succeed.

Campbell (pictured on the left above), 28, finished fifth behind Tufte in the Beijing final but was lucky to even make the event after picking up an infection that required knee surgery two months beforehand.

“Alan will of course be a big one on his home course. If he is capable of winning this should be his year,” said Tufte, 35, who has not challenged on the world scene since 2008 but expects to be in the running for his fourth Olympic medal.

“The pressure of competing on his home ground will be a big challenge for him; even if he says it is not a problem, it will always be that way.

“We will have to see if he can turn that pressure into energy. But he is a great sculler, really fast, really strong, so he is one of the guys you have to watch out for.”

Tufte admitted New Zealand’s five-time world champion Mahe Drysdale and Olympic silver medallist Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic would be the biggest rivals for himself and Campbell.

A farmer in south-east Norway, Tufte runs an annual Farmer Challenge in which competitors throw milk churns, run with sandbags and chop logs.

And Campbell has adopted aspects of the challenge in his Christmas training programme each year, in a bid more for increased mental toughness than improved fitness.

Tufte visited London this weekend to take part in a race against a British club crew as part of a stunt challenge for a Norwegian TV show.

But a crew made up of Tufte, a fellow Norwegian international and two late-night TV hosts who have never rowed before, were beaten handily by the crew from Auriol Kensington Rowing Club in Hammersmith.

Read more about Tufte’s race in Hammersmith on the Hear the Boat Sing blog.

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