Almanack: Women put their oar in

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The Independent Online
ALMANACK recently received a strongly worded letter concerning this column's 'sexist' coverage of the Boat Race. Therefore it is a special pleasure to help publicise an unusual venture in British rowing: the British International Rowing Office has taken the bold step of seeking absolute beginners to join the squad for the 1996 Olympics. 'Are you female, fit and at least 5ft 11in tall?' their appeal runs. 'Would you like to compete for Great Britain in the next Olympic Games?'

BIRO are keen to build on the success of Britain's male rowers. 'We've been very successful at the Olympic Games and World Championships,' the BIRO supremo Brian Armstrong said, 'and we know that our women could equal or even better that.'

The scheme is the brainchild of Jurgen Grobler, chief coach to Britain's men and formerly in charge of the East German women's squad. 'I ran a recruitment programme like this in Germany,' Jurgen revealed, 'and we found some world-class oarswomen.' Jurgen is not fussy about the women's ability with an oar, as long as their physical characteristics are right. 'At this stage,' he said, 'we're looking for all- round strength and fitness and good co-ordination of movement, not expert rowers.' Would-be medallists should telephone 081-741 7580.