Rowing: Britain pull clear in World Cup chase

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The Independent Online

Britain's men's coxless four and the women's quadruple scullers have only to turn up for the final round in three weeks to retain the World Cup yellow jerseys in their events. Yesterday both added a win to their first-round victories at Eton. The young men's quad also achieved a good result when they finished fourth.

Britain's men's coxless four and the women's quadruple scullers have only to turn up for the final round in three weeks to retain the World Cup yellow jerseys in their events. Yesterday both added a win to their first-round victories at Eton. The young men's quad also achieved a good result when they finished fourth.

The coxless four were awesome, taking a length lead in 200 metres and gaining clear water long before the 500m mark was reached. They finished six seconds ahead of the Italians, and are now undefeated in five races. Ireland's crew, formed as a wild card six weeks ago, took third place ahead of two German boats. This is the first heavyweight Irish crew to reach a medal podium in 20 years.

The Great Britain bow man Steve Williams, the only graduate of last year's Olympic champion boat, said that he, Alex Partridge, Peter Reed and Andy Hodge aimed "to do our thing well, and we are getting it quite effectively".

Partridge, who missed Athens through illness, said: "We have to be excellent - it's not enough to be good. It only takes one crew to challenge us, and there are more to come." Reed, the No 2, was euphoric. "It really helps to be here right now beating the world's best," he said.

The women's quad's blend of wonderful rhythm and speed righted their upset in Versailles a week ago and set them up for Henley next week, where their main opponents will be the Ukrainian crew who followed them home yesterday. "We've got all the ingredients and firepower to win the world title," said the stroke, Katherine Grainger.

The pair of Josh and Kieran West lost a medal chance when they hit a buoy. But there were signs of a British lightweight revival with good displays by young athletes. The sculler Zac Purchase won a silver and the men's light pair won bronze.

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