Heavyweight impact by lightweights

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The Independent Online
Rowing

HUGH MATHESON

reports from Paris

The new British lightweight rowing team reinforced its world standing with a win for the revamped eight and two second places for the four at the regatta here.

Despite finishing second on both Saturday and yesterday, the double scull team of Carl Smith and Peter Haining, an MBE since Saturday, have not fulfilled their promise and may be forced to disband. The crew were positive yesterday but there are at least four fast doubles which were not here, and the differences between the two talented scullers and the rest look too great to overcome.

The eight beat the Danes in a two-boat lightweight race after coming fourth among the heavies on Saturday. However, the first race was affected by some debris caught in the runners which hold the seats, whereas yesterday's final was a fine exercise in controlled aggression. Niall Gardan, rowing in a top boat for the first time after 10 years in the ranks at Notts County, claimed there was a good, relaxed rhythm and "there is plenty more speed to come".

The coxless four finished second to the Danish world champions twice and, as the first selected boat as well as claimants to the first lightweight race in the Olympic programme, is the focus for any resentment, but has earned the right to carry on through to Lucerne unchallenged. The Danish crew was later disqualified for using an underweight boat.

Jurgen Grobler, the chief national coach, took personal control of the selection two weeks ago when anarchy threatened and, with the exception of the double scull which was effectively self-selected, the crews have proved their worth.

Guin Batten finished fourth in the FISA World Cup single sculls and cemented her steady progress up the women's sculling ranks. She is now racing well up in the pack of scullers who will make up the Olympic final, although she looks stodgy when they come to the last sprint. If she can develop a change of pace for the last 250 metres, she will become a serious contender.

PARIS REGATTA: Lightweight men: Double sculls: 1 Switzerland (Gier, Gier) 6 min 17 sec; 2 GB (Haining, Smith) 6:20.34; 3 Ireland (Dolan, O'Brien) 6: 20.58. Coxless four: 1 Denmark 5:56; 2 GB (Ellis, Watson, Kay, Hessian) 5:58.64; 3 France 5:58.87. Eights: 1 GB (Bates, Gardan, Butt, Williamson, Lemon, McNiven, Strange, Helm, cox Sherman) 5:35; 2 Denmark 5:36. Lightweight women: Double Sculls: 1 Australia 6:56; 2 France 7:00 ; 3 Switzerland 7:08; 4 GB (Corless, Williams) 7:10; 6 GB (Watts, Stevens) 7:22. Single sculls: 1 France (Muller) 7:35; 2 USA (Brock) 7:38; 3 France (Lamonne) 7:44; 4 GB (White) 7:49; 5 GB (Ashcroft) 7:56; 6 GB (Hart )7:58.

FISA WORLD CUP: Women's Single Scull: 1 Sweden (Brandin), 7:7; 2 Denmark (Hansen) 7:21; 3 Belgium (Bredael) 7:27; 4 GB (Batten) 7:30.

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