Olympic Games: Rowing: Redgrave ready for rivals

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The Independent Online
Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent, world champions in the coxless pairs, will meet Iztok Cop and Denis Zvegelj, of Slovenia, the only foreign rowers to beat them since 1990, in their first heat of the Olympic regatta here today. The heats will be run between 8.00-11.40am to avoid the hottest part of the day.

Redgrave is aiming for a third successive gold medal after taking titles at Los Angeles in 1984, in the coxed fours, and Seoul four years ago in the coxless pairs with Andy Holmes. He has recovered from a bowel complaint and Brian Armstrong, the British team manager, is confident he will reassert himself: 'I have never come across a more single-minded rower than Steve,' he said. 'Physically, there is no one like him.'

Redgrave said earlier: 'The difference between Barcelona and Seoul is that now there are three or four pairs who feel they have a chance against us. In Seoul only the Romanians felt they could beat us. I hope we draw one of the big rivals in our heat so we can show them what we have got.' He has had his wish granted.

In the first race of the regatta the women's coxless four, which was put together when the eight was reformed after the Lucerne regatta, will make its debut against the 1991 world champions, Canada, the United States, two of whom came second last year, and the Chinese four which finished fourth. Only one boat will advance to the final and the remainder can race again in the repechage.

The women's double scull, which comes here as a medal hope, will meet a new Romanian double stroked by Elizabeta Lipa, who finished second in this event last year with a different partner, and a New Zealand double with Philipa Baker, lightweight world champion in 1991.

The new women's coxless pair of Miriam Batten, who won Britain's first rowing world championship medal last year, and Jo Turvey are also racing together for the first time after teaming up when Fiona Freckleton was diagnosed as suffering the residual effects of glandular fever. They must finish in the first three to go to the semi-final. Only the United States pair has good known form and will be the perfect measure for their race pace.

The men's coxed four comes here also looking for a medal, after finishing a disappointing fourth in 1991, and will meet an entire field of newly formed crews created from the rump of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. The heat winner has a straight route to the final.