BEIJING Olympians Richard Egington and Olivia Whitlam have reached their finals at the World Rowing Championships in New Zealand.

Egington and the GB men’s four crew went straight through to the final tomorrow, Friday, with a win in their heat on Lake Karapiro on Sunday.

Whitlam and her women’s eight colleagues followed that with second spot in their opening run to book a ticket to Sunday’s showdown.

Former Lymm High School pupil Egington, who started his career with Warrington Rowing Club, warned his crew’s rivals that they planned to go faster still after holding off France’s late challenge during the heat.

“We got into a good rhythm quickly and stayed in it,” he said afterwards.

“There is still a lot we can improve, too.”

The 31-year-old, plus crewmates Matthew Langridge, Alex Gregory and Alex Partridge, raced ahead of the field in the first half of a heat postponed from the previous day because of strong winds.

A British surge around the halfway mark was enough to hand them a length lead over their rivals.

The French quartet sprinted hard to close the gap but GB Rowing’s only defending world champion crew won in 5mins 50.96secs; the second fastest time of the dozen crews in the competition. Hosts New Zealand won the other heat in 5mins 49.87secs.

Friday’s showpiece, to be screened live by the BBC via its red button service, is scheduled to start shortly after 2am UK time.

Daresbury-based Whitlam, a member of Agecroft Rowing Club in Salford, helped the women's eight keep pace with the USA for much of the early part of their heat.

When USA, the world champions, moved out to over a length lead, GB made sure of qualifying by holding off challenges from China and the Dutch to finish in 6mins 0.52secs.

The women’s eight final is due to start around 2.20am on Sunday.