Olympic Games : A river full of medal hopes

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The Independent Online
Behind the immense shadow cast by Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent there is a team of unprecedented talent who can justifiably hope for more medals than any other British sport.

The men's four has crept up the rankings with bronze in 1994 and silver last year at the world championships. This year their performances have been most notable for their inconsistency, with wins and last places in successive regattas.

Much depends on how Rupert Obholzer and Tim Foster at bow and stroke respond if Greg Searle is able to produce one of his devastating bursts which won gold at Barcelona. Jonny Searle, at number two, has a brilliant rapport with his brother and will match him in endeavour. If all four get it together, as they apparently have in training, they will win. But, it is just as possible that they will finish sixth.

The women's eight may finish among the medals but are unlikely to win an event where the first six will probably be covered by a length and a half. Among their opponents here they have beaten all but Romania and the United States.

There is a new lightweight double scull on the scene. The stroke Andy Sinton is with his third partner in three years in Nick Strange, who set the world record in the coxless pairs in 1994. They qualified for Atlanta in a fast race with the Italians at Lucerne and while one good race does not make a season they have shown real pace in training.

The men's eight is also caught in a tight event with several past winners. The clear favourites from racing this season are Holland but the British have rediscovered their early-season form and have stayed injury-free for some weeks. If they can secure a place in the final a bronze is a possibility.

The same applies to the lightweight four of Dave Lemon, Jim McNiven, Tom Kay and Ben Helm. Despite a rich pedigree and an exhaustive selection process the four have not raced well this year but may, under the new coach Robin Williams, find the missing catalyst to turn talent into reward.