Sophie Hosking and Bill Lucas, from Putney’s London Rowing Club, both came home from the first World Cup of the summer in Serbia with silver medals in their new combinations – and higher hopes for London 2012.
Lucas, 24, and his partner Sam Townsend were behind only 2009 world champions Stephan Krueger and Eric Knittel in the double sculls, winning one of the 12 medals secured by Great Britain from 14 events in Belgrade.
Hosking, 26, and her new partner Kat Copeland were second to world champions Greece in their lightweight double.
The British duo were fifth early on but rowed through the Chinese and others to be second with 500m to go, just missing out in the sprint to the line.
And Hosking said: “It was a really promising start as a new combination.
“You can tell it’s Olympic year by the intensity crews are putting into the start of their races. But we were ready for that and wanted to get into our rhythm and move on from there.”
Lucas, who lives in Roehampton, has been promoted to the double this year and said: “We can take a real positive from this. In an ideal world we would like to have been in a stronger place earlier in the race but sometimes you can’t do that against such world-class crews.”
Another London RC member, cox Phelan Hill, steered the GB men’s eight to silver at the end of a week in which his selection was confirmed, following an appeal by rival Rowley Douglas.
Crucially his injury-hit crew took an early lead over their arch-rivals, world champions Germany, who have pushed them into silver at each of the last two world championships.
“It was a good race and there is more to come from us,” said Hill. “It was a nice feeling to be in the race at 1000m instead of our usual default of being down and chasing so we need to keep that going”.
Andy Hodge, Olympic champion and captain of Molsey Boat Club, won one of four GB gold medals in a new-look men’s four, along with long-time pairs partner Pete Reed.
And Alan Campbell, from Chiswick club Tideway Scullers School, was second to world champion Czech Ondrej Synek in the single sculls.
The crews competing at the start of the season are likely to go on to the Olympics but must prove their speed during the three-event World Cup series to be sure of London 2012 selection in the first week of June. The series continues in Lucerne from 25-27 May.