Haining's game of patience

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Peter Haining, the best lightweight single sculler the world has seen, took another step along the road to his target of a medal as a heavyweight in the 2000 Olympics, by qualifying for the semi-finals at Gainesville yesterday.

Haining had been relegated to the repechage system in the heats, but had shown his mettle by chasing all the way even when his cause was lost. Yesterday the last thing his coach, Miles Thomas, told him was: "It's a thinking man's race. Don't forget to think." He was telling his light sculler that the head wind, which was brisk but straight, would tempt some scullers to go out too fast before running out of puff in the closing stages.

From the start Haining was determined to stay out of the lead and to use as little energy as possible to stay in touch with the second qualifying place. At 77kg he was able to vary his tactics feeling strong enough to leave his push to the finish of the race instead of "scuttling" off at the start and trying to hang on.

Haining shadowed Australia's David Cameron, who at 22 is 12 years his junior, and waited for him to weaken. About 500m from the finish Haining took his chance. "I saw his back lose its shape and turn into a C and with a fifteen-stroke burst I was ahead," Haining said.

Haining finished four seconds behind the reigning world champion, Iztok Cop, from Slovenia.

Guin Batten also took her place in the single sculls semi-final with a solid show to take third place in the repechage. She was led briefly by the German Meike Evers, but when the 19-year-old junior world champion showed her inexperience at this level, Batten was decisive and took third place.

The men's double scull raced for the second time with Guy Pooley, the spare man, after Jim Cracknell was ruled out by the team doctor, Ann Redgrave, with a throat infection. This time Pooley was in the bow seat with Bobby Thatcher at stroke and for over 1,000m it looked like they might still qualify for the semi-final. But their lack of practice eventually proved too much in the second half of the race.

The women's pair of Kate Mackenzie and Philippa Cross had to beat one crew to make the last 12 and they did it with something to spare. However, they will have to find a lot more pace in the middle 1,000 metres if they are to reach the final on Thursday.