British crews fail in final warm-up

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The British crews which have already qualified for the Atlanta Olympics went to the Lucerne regatta for final race preparations and failed yesterday, finishing last in their finals.

The men's coxless four, the chosen vehicle for Greg and Jonny Searle when the coxed pair in which they won in 1992 was dropped from the Olympic programme, has won silver and bronze medals in the past two years, and has beaten the Italian world champions this year.

Here they crept into the final, losing to France in the heats, and to a new Croatian boat in the semi-final. In the final, the British were slow off the start, but ahead of the Australian four, which gradually crept back to challenge for the lead. But the British crew dropped to sixth with a disastrous second 500 metres and the defeat turned into a rout by the eventual margin of seven seconds behind the winners.

Guin Batten, who has reached the top group of single scullers, has failed to make her mark within it. She was drawn in the outside lane, No 6, as the slowest qualifier from the semi-final. As a result she lost six seconds in the first 500 metres when the television launch came too close and she was dragged out of her lane by its swell. Batten protested to the umpire but was overruled. To live with the top class she must commit herself to race flat out more often, and play the percentage game much less.

The lightweight men disappointed again in the four. After reaching the final with a flourish in the last quarter of the repechage race they looked ready to repeat the trick when they held the leaders Denmark in the third quarter, but nothing came.

The four raced with Steven Ellis in place of the injured Tom Kay but it has not looked worthy of the huge tally of past success which resides within it. An essential ingredient of rhythm and compatibility is missing and seems more elusive with each defeat.