Rowing: Four golds for Britain but Reed and Hodge are second best again

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The Independent Online

Britain won 10 medals, including four golds, in the final round of the World Cup here yesterday, showing that the rowing team is in great shape for qualifying boats for next year's Olympics and next month's world championships in Bled, Slovenia.

But the men's team may get a shake-up next spring after Pete Reed and Andy Hodge finished second in the coxless pairs to New Zealand's Eric Murray and Hamish Bond for the 13th consecutive time.

Reed and Hodge may be the best pair in Britain, but they remain firmly the second-best pair in the world. This was the first meeting between the crews this year, and it produced the same reasoning after defeat as we have heard for two seasons – "There's more in the tank; we have another gear; we can step up next race." It is turning into a long wait.

This year's main task for chief coaches Jürgen Grobler (men) and Paul Thompson (women and lightweights) is to qualify boats for the Olympics, for which they are on target in thirteen of the 14 Olympic classes.

But the question facing Grobler is whether to give up the Kiwi chase and move Reed and Hodge into his four or eight next year.

The four, with the Beijing gold medallist Tom James recently returned to it, continue to make matters difficult by winning with authority yesterday. The eight, which contains the 1992 gold medallist Greg Searle still pulling in his 40th year, are among the leaders of the pack, taking bronze behind the German crew who beat them at Henley last week. The present situation is that he has three medal class boats but only one on the gold standard.

The men's sculling squad is also in good shape. The quad of Tom Solesbury, Steve Rowbotham, Sam Townsend and Bill Lucas won silver - the best result in history for four British scullers in the same boat. The double of Matt Wells and Marcus Bateman won bronze which was disappointing for the redheads known as the Red Express, but nevertheless meant they among the medals.

In the absence of Alan Campbell with a sore throat, the single sculls was won by Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic with New Zeland's Mahe Drysdale second and Lassi Karonen of Sweden third.

Thompson is missing an outstanding single sculler in his women's squad, but his double and quad are blooming. For Anna Watkins and Katherine Grainger, this was their first competition in the same boat this season because Watkins suffered a back problem. They won with authority although challenged by the Australians Kerry Hore and Kim Crow.

The women's quad changed recently when Melanie Wilson replaced the injured Fran Houghton, but a solid performance brought them home second to Germany who have an extensive pedigree in this boat class. A gold medal for the pair of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning and silver for the lightweight double scullers Hester Goodsell and Sophie Hosking further bolstered the women's team. The eight was the only British finalist that missed a medal, being squeezed into fourth.

The men's lightweight four delivered the fourth gold medal of the regatta in a cracking race when they moved from fourth to first in the third quarter of the race and held on to the front spot in a blanket finish involving Italy, Denmark and Australia.

Team GB's medal haul

* Men's Four
* Men's Lightweight Four
* Women's Pair
* Women's Double Scull

* Men's Pair
* Men's Quadruple Scull
* Women's Lightweight Double
* Women's Quadruple Scull

* Men's Double Scull
* Men's Eight

World Rowing Cup 2011 Standings

1 Germany 177 points,
2 GB 149 points,
3 New Zealand 113 points,
4 USA 70 points,
5 Poland 56 points