Rowing: Grainger 'devastated' after scullers are caught on line by Russian rivals

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A glorious victory by the men's coxless four on Saturday was the summit of Britain's performance at the World Championships. But yesterday's expectations were blown away on the breeze chasing waves along the Eton course.

The women's quadruple scullers, favourites to retain their 2005 title, were overtaken by the Russians close to the line. After gaining silver, Britain's Katherine Grainger, the stroke, described the narrow defeat as the "lowest moment" of her career. "I can't imagine anything worse than losing in front of your own crowd," she said. "It reminds ourselves how much it hurts when we lose. We wanted to make the British public proud and to win a world title on home soil. We'll get over this feeling and bounce back for next season, but our first reaction is absolute devastation."

The Russians led to halfway, where the British let rip to go ahead with 500 metres left. But the Russian response was an assault which just gained them gold.

Britain's total of two golds, one silver and two bronze was one medal better than a year ago, and disguises the huge advances made in the squad during that period.

The men's four of Steve Williams, Peter Reed, Alex Partridge and Andy Hodge took masterly control of their race to win their second world title. Zac Purchase, the lightweight sculler, won gold and set a new best time on Saturday, and put his marker on a trial for the lightweight double for the Olympics, for which next year's championships are a qualifying regatta.

Matt Wells and Steve Rowbotham's bronze in double sculls is Britain's first crew-sculling medal for 28 years and indicates real advances among those who use two oars each. This year's incredible progress of the heavyweight sculler Alan Campbell was obscured by equipment failure in a final where he could have done a lot of damage. The fifth British medal was won by the lightweight women's quad yesterday.

The last hope to increase the total was down to the men's eight, who had produced storming performances in the previous rounds. Their final developed, unusually for eights, into two races, with Italy and the US challenging Germany for gold, and Britain, Poland and Australia fighting for places four to six. The German victors included Seb Schulte and Thorsten Engelman from this year's Cambridge crew.

This was the second year that disability events have been included in the championships, and Helene Raynsford won gold in the arms-only single sculls, and Sean Sewell in bronze in the equivalent event for men. The British legs, arms and trunk mixed four won their second world title.