CAPE TOWN - The men's rowing teams are medal contenders for Team South Africa at the Tokyo Olympics, but they will have to pull out all the stops to reach the quarter-finals after a tough start to their competition on Saturday.
The men's pair duo of Luc Daffarn and Jake Green finished last in their heat from lane one at the Sea Forest Waterway in a time of 7 minutes, 4.03 seconds (7:04.03).
The top three teams in each heat qualify automatically for the quarter-finals, and it was Romania (6:33.86), the Netherlands (6:36.42) and Serbia (6:43.18) who got the job done.
Spain ended fourth in 6:53.33 and will also go into the repechage.
Now Daffarn and Green have it all to do in the repechage round on Sunday (2.40am SA time), which is a second chance for teams to go through to the quarter-finals, with the top two teams advancing.
SA will come up against Spain, France and Belarus to qualify for the quarter-finals on Tuesday, with the final scheduled for Thursday.
It was a similar outcome for the men's four team of Lawrence Brittain, Kyle Schoonbee, John Smith and Sandro Torrente in their heat on Saturday as they came last in heat one in 6:25.34.
They trailed winners Australia by over 30 seconds, with the Aussies triumphing in 5:54.27, following by the United States (5:57.27), the Netherlands (6:00.27) and Romania (6:03.51).
Only Australia and the US progressed straight into the final.
South Africa will compete in the repechage round on Sunday (6.10am SA time), where they will have to finish in the top two against Canada, Romania, the Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland to qualify for Wednesday’s final (3.10am SA time).
They will hope that that the experience of Brittain and Smith will get them into the decider, as Brittain won silver in the men's pair at Rio 2016, while Smith was part of the gold-medal men's four group at London 2012.
In judo action on Saturday, South Africa's only competitor, Michaela Whitebooi, lost by Ippon to Olympic and world champion Paula Pareto of Argentina in the women's 48kg division.