Grobler glad to see heats victory by injury-hit coxless four

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The Independent Online

The coxless four, one of four British crews to win heats in the final round of the World Cup here yesterday, instigated sighs of relief from all concerned.

"It was good to win with Tom James on board," said the chief coach, Jürgen Grobler. James replaced Alex Partridge two months ago, only to suffer a rib injury. The stroke, Andy Hodge, then missed the second round of the Cup. The first-choice crew have been rowing together for little more than a week.

"Realism is the word of the day," said Steve Williams, the Athens gold medallist in the No 2 seat. "We could have done with another week before racing, but it would have been a mistake to sit at home and watch the last regatta before the Olympics on television."

Hodge said: "Effectively we're starting from zero here. It was a bit rocky, a bit delicate, but I'm pleased with what we did. We know people have been stepping up. It's much closer than last year."

The double scullers Elise Laverick and Anna Bebington, who have also struggled with injury, showed their promise with a win. Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter were on song in the lightweight doubles and the lightweight pair of Chris Bartley and Danny Harte also won.