Rowing: Garbett blow hurts British Olympic preparations

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The Independent Online

The British Olympic squad's problems at Henley continued yesterday when Toby Garbett suffered a back strain and James Livingston found himself summoned to accompany Rick Dunn in a round of the Goblets for coxless pairs. Mike Sweeney, chairman of the regatta, has agreed that Garbett can return to the boat today or tomorrow if he is pronounced fit.

The British Olympic squad's problems at Henley continued yesterday when Toby Garbett suffered a back strain and James Livingston found himself summoned to accompany Rick Dunn in a round of the Goblets for coxless pairs. Mike Sweeney, chairman of the regatta, has agreed that Garbett can return to the boat today or tomorrow if he is pronounced fit.

Livingston fitted in well, and yesterday the South Africans Ramon Di Clementé and Donovan Cech progressed effortlessly towards meeting Dunn and Livingston or Garbett in the final. Ironically Livingston is drawn from the Great Britain coxed four in which Kieran West and Tom Stallard also sit, the pair who were forced to quit the Goblets to concentrate on the four.

If there was one law for the Goblets, there was another in the Thames Cup from which Mitsubishi of Japan were expelled for a breach of the qualification rule which bans senior internationals from participating crews. Their No 5 man, Takehiro Kubo, won a world gold in Japan's lightweight quadruple scull in 2000. Mitsubishi completed two rounds at the regatta, knocking Curlew out in the first and London RC 'B' in the second.

The Swiss crew Reuss were required to row over yesterday, and London failed in their protestations to be allowed back into the event.

Although crews who row over are required to row hard rather than paddle, the other remaining six crews had to race. The measure taken to keep the status fair arguably led to an uneven playing field in the competition. The sadness is that the Mitsubishi status should have been uncovered by the stewards before the draw was made.

To further add to Britain's Olympic preparation difficulties, Ian Lawson was knocked out of the Diamonds by Oxford's Colin Smith after he caught a boat-stopper of a crab at the mile and eighth signal. Smith, 18-year-old stroke of the Oxford Boat Race crew, said: "I knew he'd be strong through the middle and finish, particularly when we hit the headwind. If I kept pushing I may end up blowing, but there's a better chance he'd end up making a mistake."

Harvard Freshmen's unbeaten season came to an end on the second stroke of their race with Nereus Amsterdam in the Temple Cup when bowman Michael Harrington's seat broke. He threw his oar and himself overboard, and although Harvard continued with seven men, Nereus were too strong.

All went smoothly for one British Olympic crew, the women's quadruple scullers, who, said the official recorder, "powered away from the first stroke and disappeared".

The Sydney Olympic gold medallist, Tim Foster, and his London University four bowed out of the Visitors' to Cambridge Blues Nate Kirk, Andrew Shannon, Wayne Pommen and Steffen Buschbacher. Notts County's duel between their A and B crews in the Wyfold ended by disqualification for the A crew after a clash a few strokes before the line, though it is a moot point whether the right crew were penalised since the clash was in neutral water.

Leander's Alex Beever, who should be selected as a spare for the Olympic women's team, began her run in the Princess Royal with an easy win over Shelley Wilkins of Wallingford. The lightweight Americans Tom and Peter Graves won their Double Sculls race by two feet.

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