DARESBURY’S Olivia Whitlam and her pairs partner Louisa Reeve start Olympic racing on Saturday morning as an unknown quantity.

Whitlam’s partnership with Londer Reeve only came to fruition less than three months ago, booking their ticket to China with a brilliant second place in only their second outing together at the Olympic Qualification Regatta in Poland in June, which was the last time they raced.

Since then they have worked on their bond as a pair at training camps in Germany and Caversham, near Reading, as well as for the past seven days in China.

Whitlam, aged 22, who won gold in the pairs at the World Under 23s Championships last year, said: “I definitely think we’re working better as a unit but it’s hard to tell without actually racing.

“The longer you know each other the better you get at communicating with each other.

“And the pairs is the only kind of boat in rowing where you’re so reliant on someone. You both have to work together because you’ve only got one blade on either side of the boat.”

Because the partnership is only just starting to blossom, Whitlam, a member of Agecroft Rowing Club in Salford, said she does not wish to have preconceived ideas about their expectations in Beijing.

“We’re not really sure where we stand in the pack at all.

“If we’d raced loads of World Cups together we’d have an idea where we rank and what the expectations are.

“But we haven’t raced most of the crews before. We can just go in and say we’re going to go as fast as we can from A to B and find out where that puts us.

“I just want to have three really good races and be able to say that I raced to the standards that I’m capable of racing.

“I want to be able to say I’d given everything and then, even if I finish in a place where I didn’t want to, I know I couldn’t have given more.”

Whitlam, whose mother will be supporting her in China, and Richard Egington will be the first rowers to fly the flag for Warrington in an Olympic Games.

“I feel completely proud to be representing Warrington, along with Rick,” she said.

“There’s a couple of good juniors coming through at Warrington Rowing Club, so Olympic rowers from the town may happen a bit more often in the future.

“It’s nice to see rowing pick up in the area. It’s kind of building a bit of momentum.

“We’ve got some really goood water in the area and it’s crazy that we don’t use it to it’s full potential.

“It’s nice to see more people coming through now.”

* Click here for Richard Egington’s blog on his journey to the Olympics, including today’s update on final preparations for racing. Find out why Richard is happy not to be staying in the Olympic Village in Beijing.