OLYMPICS / Barcelona 1992: Rowing: Britain's power cut in repechage

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The Independent Online
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THE repechage races here yesterday turned the bright sunshine and clear blue water to the colour of sackcloth and ashes for the British team where crews which had been selected on the expectation of finals berths were relegated to the ranks of the also-rans. The coxed four of Simon Berrisford, Terence Dillon, Nick Burfitt and Pete Mulkerrins were part of the British eight until the Essen regatta and acted to break it up because they were certain they could perform better in the four. Fifth place at Lucerne sobered their ambition, but they still arrived in Barcelona in hopeful mood.

In their repechage they moved well off the start and took the lead with the United States close behind. With two boats to qualify the British and Americans gradually moved clear of the pack and, at half-way, the British crew was leading France, in third place, by a length and a quarter. At the 1500-metre mark the United States had taken a slender lead and France had closed fractionally. But still there seemed power and rhythm to spare.

However, as France launched their sprint to the finish the British response was slow and hesitant. John Deakin, the cox, could see the French approaching and was calling for effort but there was little response and France pulled into second place 100 metres from the finish, after covering the last 500 metres five seconds faster than the British crew.

The British women's double scull, which had been unimpressive in the heats - their coach, Ron Needs, had reported that Ali Gill was suffering from an upset stomach - performed an efficient job of qualifying for the last 12, by winning their repechage. However, the women's coxless four finished last in their repechage by two lengths.

In single sculls, Tish Reid qualified for the final by finishing second to Violeta Yordanova, of Bulgaria, the world junior champion. Reid, who established an advantage soon after the start, appeared to ease up after passing the 1000m, perhaps mindful of the task ahead.

The men's coxless four of Salih Hassan, John Garrett and Gavin Stewart and Richard Stanhope, underlined their medal potential when coasting home ahead of the strong Canadian and French opposition.

Stanhope, the elder statesman of Britain's rowing team at 35, stayed on course for a second Olympic medal - 12 years after winning silver at the 1980 Games in Moscow.

The men's quadruple tried out new sculls in an attempt to rediscover their old speed but were still out of touch in finishing fifth to take a place in the C final for 13th place.

Wade Hall-Craggs, the spare man who was entereed for the single sculls after a fast time trial on Saturday finished fourth in his repechage and will also contest the C final.