Rowing: British four recover from Partridge's sad departure

The dramatic exit made by Alex Partridge from Britain's coxless four with a collapsed lung on Saturday added a sharp edge to the performance expected from a crew which has spent three months hinting at but not quite delivering its promise. Yesterday, Steve Williams, James Cracknell, Matthew Pinsent and Ed Coode, who was sprung from the eight to replace Partridge, overpowered the Australian combination from Melbourne and Queensland, covering the mile and 550 yards in 6 minutes 46 seconds to win by two lengths.

Coode is no stranger to coxless fours, having been part of the British team that won gold at the World Championships in 1999 and 2001. He was also brought into the present four to win another gold at the World Championships in Poznan earlier this year when Cracknell had a cracked rib.

Pinsent, about to be presented with his 16th Henley medal, said that this was their easiest and hardest race rolled into one - easiest because of the home crowd at Henley, hardest because none of them, not even Partridge himself, had any inkling about his condition, but they all know what not going to the Athens Olympics means to him.

"We have to make a clean start again. The opposition have not beaten the British four who are going to the Olympics. There's no point in chasing what might have been," Pinsent said.

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