Four and eight on track for success

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Rowing

British competitors have called for an end to lightweight rowing in major competitions. Senior oarsmen at the World Championships here in France have asked Denis Oswald, president of the sport's international governing body, Fisa, to withdraw lightweight status.

"We don't think lightweight rowing has a part to play in the future of the sport as a whole and should be got rid of," Greg Searle, Britain's sculler and team captain, said. " needs changes to become more popular, which means scaling it down - streamlining it, if you like - to make it easier to watch and read about."

Five more British crews shrugged off the low cloud and wintry gloom here to move forward to either finals, or semi-finals. The men's coxed four and eight each raced decisively to win their repechage and advance to the main final in the top four.

The men's eight had to take on a spare blade for the stroke, Ricky Dunn, just before the start, when the composite handle of his own became loose. But the young and comparatively inexperienced crew shook off any worries and followed their race plan to the letter.

"We race to a standard plan but if someone takes a little from us we don't let them have any comfort," the cox, Christian Cormack, said. "We keep grinding at people."

There will be nothing to spare in Saturday's final when Romania, one of the heat winners, will be feeling the effects of doubling up in other events, and four other crews have finished within a second of each other. The British eight is improving as the week goes on and should get the full benefits of training at high altitude.

After a good start, the women's eight still found itself in fifth place after 500m. The cox, Suzie Ellis, called for the crew to find a rhythm and to relax and they began to move back through the field and had passed Belarus and Germany by half-way for second place. In the last thousand the crew pulled up to Canada, finishing three seats down.

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