Rowing: British exploit home help
Tuesday 22 August 2006
The home-crowd effect is already lifting the British team at the World Championships. Members of the men's eight and women's quad both cited the incentive of competing on home water to enhance performance, even if there are fewer spectators early in the week than there will be at the weekend's finals.
The quad, favourites to retain the title they won last year, led for 100 metres before the Russians went ahead by a length and held their place with three quarters of the race gone.
The British had to use their whole pre-determined race programme to coolly reduce the gap until, with 150m to go, they slid past to claim the only place in the final on offer from the heat by a second.
Katherine Grainger, who strokes the crew, said: "Before a home crowd on opening day, it was natural instinct to come through. But I don't think we'd ever put out our best result in a heat," she added.
The men's eight had a lousy start when they dropped behind the leaders by three seconds, but the rest was the best row they have had in a year when everyone else has been as up and down as themselves. They were the fastest boat in the last 500m and came home a hundredth of a second behind the Germans to qualify for a semi-final.
Britain's lightweight women's quad qualified for the final and the men's lightweight pair and double scullers had great wins yesterday to reach semi-finals. The women's eight were derailed by a crab, which cost them several strokes.
Today the sick men - Alan Campbell in the single sculls, who had a cold, and Tom James in the pair with Colin Smith, who has a respiratory infection - must survive repêchages to continue. David Tanner, the team manager, said they are both fit to go to the office but it remains to be seen how they will feel when faced with 2,000m, even in a following wind.
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