reports from Tampere, Finland
Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent led their semi-final from the first stroke in the World Championships here, and allowed the field to sort itself out in their wake. "Everyone else expects us to win and we expect to win. But we still have to do it," Pinsent said.
Robert Thatcher and James Cracknell, 21 yesterday and 23 respectively, sculled a mature race in an event for experienced men and just failed to make the A final for the top six. The British double started slowly and were fourth at the 500m mark, but the fastest second 500m brought them back into the race. After 1500m they briefly showed in second place after passing Australia, before Spain pulled through to take the second qualifying place. Thatcher and Cracknell have now secured a start in the Atlanta Olympics and have everything to train for.
The coxless four scored an important psychological victory, beating the 1994 champions, Italy, and the Olympic champions, Australia, in the semi- final after allowing them to gain a 2.5sec lead in the middle of the race. The British four have not gone well this summer but produced a startling last 500m, pulling back three seconds to finish first.
The two lightweight scullers came through in close races. Sue Appleboom lay in fourth place, more than three seconds off qualifying, until a late charge brought her up to second. Appleboom's surge was so late, and so quick, that it confused the results machine, which placed her third.
Peter Haining looked a little tense over the first half of the course while he built a decent lead and he relaxed in the second 1,000m only to be chased to the line by the Dane, Anders Brehms. Haining's nonchalance at the finish looked a little studied.
Carl Smith and Andy Sinton had the worst possible draw, and they finished fifth in a time which would have won them each of the other semi-finals. Instead they must now race the C final for places 13 to 18, and to drop below second in that race will put them out of the Olympics.
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