Rowing: Partridge back in the flow

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The Independent Online

Tom Broadway and Phil Simmons turned a slow start in the coxless pairs into a qualifying result in their first race over 2,000 metres. Until six weeks ago they were in the eight before it was reorganised to include Kieran and Josh West at their expense.

In the days before competition, the Nagara river course had been a raging torrent, fanned by the outreach of typhoon Mawar, causing all crews to revert to rowing machines for practice.

But the coxless four felt good about their 11th race undefeated, in particular Alex Partridge, in the No 3 seat, who was contesting his first real world-class race since Henley 2004 when a collapsed lung robbed him of his seat in the Athens Olympic four.

"I felt like a caged horse when we had to get back on ergos instead of rowing because of the typhoon," he said. "It would have been disastrous if it had been cancelled and we'd had to pack up."

Fears that the river would not quieten and that lanes would be unfair proved unfounded, although the four, ever sensitive to their surroundings, detected a slight undercurrent pulling them round to bow side. Their main challenge, now comes from the American boat who returned a faster time in a much closer heat.

Jo Hammond was second in her event last year, and yesterday she fought doggedly to keep ahead of Greece's Chrysi Biskitzi by a split second. Purchase, this year's Under-23 champion, won first place in his heat by half a second.

The heavyweight sculler Annie Vernon,who began the season in the double scull and continued briefly in the quad before securing the single seat, also had a good result in a talent-loaded event by qualifying for a semi-final in third place.

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