Rowing: Under-23s double scullers storm to gold

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The double scullers Charles Cousins and Bill Lucas stormed to a gold medal on the Beetzee in Brandenburg yesterday, leading a British medal count of five in the world under-23 championships. Cousins and Lucas of Reading University were third in this event last year and have developed strongly since under the world class start programme which discovered them.

The early leaders in the race were Sinkovic twins of Croatia, but the Brits came to the front just after halfway. Their turn of speed through the middle of the race secured them the prize, with the Germans as the fastest finishers taking third place behind the Croatians.

Tina Stiller, the Nottingham student who almost qualified for the Olympics last month, won the silver medal for single sculls, five seconds behind Julia Richter of Germany. She now goes on to the European championships in September in an experimental double scull with Debbie Flood of the GB Olympic quad.

Bronzes went to the women’s four and the men’s and women’s pairs, especially pleasing for the pairs because they were put together recently and thrown into the deep end of a tricky boat class.

Hopes for the men’s four started high, but the hand brake was applied all week because Cameron Nichol was nursing an injury. Carl Delaney from the lightweight men’s pair replaced him for yesterday’s final, but the crew were well outside the medals.

The men’s eight, another boat assembled from several club crews at Henley only two weeks ago, had a meteoric start, but their speed and luck ran out yesterday when they finished fifth in a race where the lead changed several times before the Americans locked up the gold medal.