Rowing: West and Banks guide British eight into final

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The Independent Online

Cool tactics by the British men's eight brought them qualification for next year's Olympics and a place in tomorrow's final at the World Championships here yesterday. The lightweight four and the double scullers Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter achieved the same ends, bringing the total of GB boats that can start in the Beijing Games to nine, with two others yet to qualify.

Britain have 19 crews in the weekend's finals, including 10 in Olympic events and three adaptive boats, an unprecedented achievement. By finishing second in yesterday's B final (places seven to 12), the trunk and arms double scullers Karen Cromie and James Roberts brought the total of adaptive crews qualified for next year's Paralympics to four.

The eight had a wobbly season until the coaching team of John West and Mark Banks succeeded in blending experienced men with young talent and gave them the confidence to realise their goal. Yesterday's row was masterful. A slow start transformed into a steady rhythm for metre after metre that took them past the Chinese and the Germans into second place. The winners were Canada, and the US, Russia and Poland qualified in the other semi.

"The pacing of the race was important," West said after the victory. "The guys executed a wise race plan exactly. They're much closer to what they are capable of."

The band played "It's a long way to Tipperary" when the lightweight four of Richard Chambers, James Lindsay-Fynn, Paul Mattick and James Clarke won their semi-final. It was more appropriate than they thought, because two of the crew are Irish.

Purchase and Hunter were caught in a scrimmage in the doubles after leading with 500 metres to go. They crossed the line third, behind Japan and Italy.

"Everyone clawed on to us and held on," Hunter said. "My mum in the grandstand lost all her nails after that."

Matt Beechey and Daniel Harte stormed home first in the lightweight pairs repêchage to secure a place in their final.

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