Rowing: British squad make glittering start

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The Independent Online

The British rowing team celebrated with a burst of golden glitter at the first round of the World Cup here in Spain yesterday with a haul of nine gold medals, a silver and a bronze all reaped across the Olympic events.

Golds came for the men's and women's pairs and double sculls, the women's quad and eight, the new men's four and for single scullers Alan Campbell and Katherine Grainger. The achievement of placing a boat in every final accumulated 94 points and an almost unassailable position to top the table after the other two rounds.

Although such a result is tempered by a small entry in some events, it provides an indicator of the new talent replacing several of the big names who have retired since last year's Beijing Olympics.

That is why the silver medal won by the men's quadruple scullers is among the best results because all those on board — Charles Cousins, Marcus Bateman, William Lucas and Sam Townsend — were recruited to rowing by the World Class Start scheme to find new Redgraves. The crew they almost overturned were the Polish Olympic champions.

Katherine Grainger, who has switched to the single scull after winning her three Olympic medals in crew boats, commanded her new event.

Alan Campbell, who finished fifth in Beijing, trounced the Olympic champion Olaf Tufte and Tim Maeyens. Campbell led and inflicted the pain in the third quarter of the race.

Coach Jurgen Grobler's strategy to switch back to Peter Reed and Andy Triggs Hodge in the leading men's boat paid off.

The new coxless four, the boat that Reed and Hodge were in for the previous Olympiad, also has a future.

The reunion of Beijing medallists from different boats, Anna Bebington and Annie Vernon, in the double scull has paid off with gold, and two and half hours later they stepped into the quad to win their second gold of the day.

Louisa Reeve and Olivia Whitlam also won two golds, first in a pair and then in the eight.

Matt Wells and Stephen Rowbotham are already moving on from their bronze-winning result in Beijing, combining a solid performance with a nail-biting finish.

Wells made his last call so late that there was hardly time to catch the French, who had to content themselves with silver.

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