Rowing: Grobler buoyed by Leander sweep

Jürgen Grobler, the Great Britain men's coach, and Mark Banks, the Leander coach, had the satisfaction of watching Leander's internationals sweep up all the top pennants in Saturday's Head of the River Fours.

Leander's quadruple scullers - Pete Gardner, Simon Cottle, Ian Lawson and Matt Langridge - led the 530-boat time-trial from Mortlake to Putney from start to finish.

James Cracknell and Matthew Pinsent, with Ed Coode and Rick Edgington, pushed Leander's coxed four into 10th place, two places behind their team-mates, the GB coxless four of Steve Williams, Josh West, Toby Garbett and Rick Dunn.

The team's women's quad - Debbie Flood, Alex Beever, Alison Mowbray and Rebecca Romero - just held off another crew of internationals from Marlow-Thames-Leander - Elise Laverick, Sarah Winckless, Cath Bishop and Tracy Langlands - to become the leading women's boat in 44th place overall.

Grobler takes his squad to an altitude camp in the Sierra Nervada in two weeks' time before they face trials in December, and he was pleased that many members of the open and lightweight men's squads featured in the top 10 crews. "This was not a selection regatta," he said emphatically. "It's a great event and it's a good start to the fitness programme. The Olympic season is short, and these men must be racing fit by May."

Leander's coxed four was stroked by Cracknell, the first time that he has ever stroked a crew containing his pairs' partner Pinsent. "He was stroking really," Cracknell said of Pinsent. "I was just sitting in front of him."

The coxless four showed their superiority even though they were not as fast as they would have been had stroke Dunn not suffered palpitations half way through the race caused by a cold which, he later admitted, should have stopped him from taking part.

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