Britain's Olympic plans still fluid despite three golds

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The Independent Online

Britain finished the final round of the world cup – the last big test before the Olympics – with three golds, a silver and a bronze. Winning the cup overall for the second year was a bonus, but some Olympic selection questions remain despite some no-brainers among the small sculling boats.

The double scullers Elise Laverick and Anna Bebington stormed to victory after months of injury and illness, and the lightweight double of Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter clocked up their third successive world cup win. The men's eight won gold as well, over a depleted entry which included the German boat which had six changes after being whipped by the British three weeks ago.

The questions remain over the flagship men's boat, the coxless four, who finished second in a really hard race. This was all that they could expect, perhaps, given a premature return from injury for bow man Tom James and stroke Andy Hodge. But Steve Williams and Peter Reed had hoped for more. Will coach Jürgen Gröbler stick with this line up? Probably, but we might get a idea about who is in what boat at the Olympic team announcement on Thursday.

The eight has never raced in the same combination twice since Mark Banks and John West took over the coaching last year. The make-up of the four has affected what they do. In Poznan the members of the group who got the short straw were Robin Bourne-Taylor and Tom Solesbury, who struggled to finish eighth. The trouble is that the best pair in Britain by far is Hodge and Reed from the four. The pair for Beijing, therefore, will be substitution fodder for the other boats unless Hodge and Reed are thought to be a better golden bet than their present boat, which is extremely unlikely.

The women's eight won bronze, but the crew who are in a real mess are the men's lightweight four, the 2007 world champions. They have their foot brake down without any apparent reason. The lightweight double of Hester Goodsell and Helen Casey were sixth, but the women's lightweight quad – a non-Olympic boat – won gold.

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