Hard graft is already paying off for Great Britain’s Para-rowing squad, who started with a clean sweep of heat victories at the World Championships.

All three boats seared to impressive victories and advanced to Thursday’s semi-finals in Linz, Austria, headlined by the PR3 mixed coxed four’s commanding start to the defence of their world tile.

Ellen Buttrick, Giedre Rakauskaite, James Fox, Oliver Stanhope and cox Erin Wysocki-Jones finished nearly 30 seconds ahead of the field and were two seconds shy of the world record.

Paralympic gold medallist Fox said: “We did exactly what we set out to do, went out really hard and went really fast.

“We can take a lot of confidence from that, especially that we almost broke the world record in the heat and we didn’t even go to the line.

“We’re excited for what’s to come this week.”

Buttrick and Stanhope have a fine record on the global stage, winning world titles within a year of international debut in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

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They really stamped their authority on the race

Tom Dyson

The four scooped two medals at the recent Gavirate International Regatta and are the top seeded crew at the Championships.

They advance to Thursday’s A/B semi-final as the fastest qualifier, coxed by Wysocki-Jones who led them to victory a year ago in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

United for a first tilt at world glory since 2015, Paralympic champions Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley cruised through as fastest qualifier in the PR2 mixed double sculls.

With a 8:13.86 clocking in their heat, they came in 28 seconds quicker than Poland’s boat.

The pair claimed silver and Paralympic qualification when they last raced together at a World Championships in 2015, while Rowles also reached the rostrum at World Cup II earlier this season.

James Fox won gold with the mixed coxed four at the Paralympics in 2016

“It’s so great to be back out there at the World Championships,” said Rowles.

“We wanted to go out there and put everything we’ve been doing in training into the race and show our dominance.

“We’re excited for the semi-final now. It’s great to have an extra race to try different things out and build our experience.”

The strength of GB Rowing Team was showcased by the commanding fashion in which World Championship debutant Ben Pritchard sealed qualification for the PR1 single sculls semi-final.

The former triathlete, 27, beat world bronze medallist Alexey Chuvashev to automatic qualification by 16 seconds.

Chief coach Tom Dyson said: “I’m really pleased for the team.

“The four in particular were outstanding and really stamped their authority on the race.

“The results show that we are where we thought we were throughout the training camps. We’ve put ourselves in a good place to contend for qualification and are looking forward to the weekend.”

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