JAMIE KIRKWOOD is determined to prove the British selectors wrong as he heads into the quarter-finals of the World Rowing Championships in France this morning.

Kirkwood, who is from Ashington and a member of the Cambois Rowing Club in Northumberland, will compete for a semi-final spot in the lightweight single scull today after successfully coming through his opening heat on Monday.

The 26-year-old is making his third appearance at the World Championships, but despite winning the lightweight section at the last two British trials, he finds himself competing in the single, which is a non-Olympic category.

Will Fletcher, who is from Chester-le-Street, and Richard Chambers were selected in the lightweight double, which is an Olympic boat class, but while they will be responsible for trying to ensure Britain gain a qualification place for next year’s Olympics in Rio, they are not guaranteed to be selected no matter how they do in France this week.

If Kirkwood impresses in the single, he could still force his way into Olympic contention, and while he admits he was disappointed by his failure to make the double for the Worlds, which are being staged on Lake Aiguebelette, he is determined to do all he can to prompt a rethink from the selectors.

“I would prefer to be in the double or the four, but unfortunately that didn’t happen,” said Kirkwood. “I’ve won in each of the last two years at the trials, but for whatever reason, that wasn’t deemed to be enough to get me a place in one of the Olympic boats.

“I’m not going to lie, that was disappointing at the time, but there’s nothing I can do about it now and I just have to focus on the opportunity I’ve been given.

“It’s a massive honour to represent your country at the World Championships and the single is a very tough event so I know I’m going to have to give it everything to get a good result.

“If I can do that though, it’ll make a point to the people who left me out. I want to be able to prove to them that I am a good athlete, and maybe they’ll start to think that they’ve made some wrong decisions.

“That’s definitely part of what’s driving me on at the Worlds because, like everybody else in the squad, I want to be competing at the Olympics next summer. I can’t push my claims in one of the Olympic boats, but that doesn’t mean I can’t achieve something special. If you can get a good result in a single, people will give you respect.”

Kirkwood’s performances over the course of the last two years suggest he is more than capable of making Friday’s final, but having spent most of last season competing in the double, he is having to relearn the finer details of the single while taking on specialists who are much more used to the technicalities of the boat.

His opening-round display was positive as he burst from the starting gate and controlled the majority of the race before he was eventually overhauled by Slovenia’s Rajko Hrvat in the closing stages.

His second-placed finish was good enough to guarantee a quarter-final spot though, and he is targeting a medal despite the high level of competition in the rest of the field.

“I definitely think I can compete for a medal, but the single is a tough event to be in,” he said. “There are some quality guys who have been doing this right through the season, so it’s not easy to go in there and try to take them on.

“I won the final trials in a single in April, but then I wasn’t back in the boat until after the team was selected (a month ago). So it’s been a bit of a challenge to get used to things again and get my performances up.”

Fletcher and Chambers will be expected to progress from the quarter-finals of the lightweight double this afternoon, having impressed as they comfortably won their opening heat on Sunday.

Olympic champion Kat Copeland, and her partner Charlotte Taylor, were second in their opening outing at the weekend, but they eased up towards the finish and should have no problems negotiating their own quarter-final later today.

Durham’s Jess Eddie and Richmond’s Zoe Lee are also on the water today as they attempt to claim a final spot from the repechage of the women’s eight.

The eight have to make the final to have any chance of securing one of the five automatic qualifying spots for next year’s Olympics in Rio, but they could only finish third in their opening heat on Monday, behind the USA and the Netherlands, who both claimed places in the final.

“Our row was solid, but we got a bit blind-sided by the Dutch in the second 500,” said Eddie. “We are still one of the fastest crews in the competition though and are ready to go in the repechage.”