British sculls foursome turn up the heat

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The Independent Online

The British women's quadruple sculling crew won their heat in style yesterday to qualify for next Sunday's final. The Russian crew led for 900 metres until the British powered through and took command. The problem now facing Alison Mowbray, Debbie Flood, Frances Houghton and Rebecca Romero is to keep fresh and occupied for six days before their next and final race.

The British women's quadruple sculling crew won their heat in style yesterday to qualify for next Sunday's final. The Russian crew led for 900 metres until the British powered through and took command. The problem now facing Alison Mowbray, Debbie Flood, Frances Houghton and Rebecca Romero is to keep fresh and occupied for six days before their next and final race.

After two days of competition, Britain has two crews in the semi-finals, with the remaining eight all involved in the repêchage, or second chance, round which will take place tomorrow after a forecast of winds gusting to 15 metres per second caused today's rowing to be postponed. Officials will review the programme daily and post information on www.athens.olympic.org

The British eight ran into rough water yesterday when Tom James, the stroke, was isolated in the hotel with sickness. Dan Ouseley moved to stroke and spare man Kieran West joined the crew at two. They are destined for a repêchage tomorrow after finishing fourth in a race in which the lead passed from Italy to Canada and then to the United States. The Canadians are reigning world champions, and the US crew ground them down in the last 200 metres, winning by half a second and setting a world's best time of 5min 19.85sec.

The American women's eight and the Australian women's lightweight double scullers also set world records yesterday.

On Saturday, the coxless four of Steve Williams, James Cracknell, Ed Coode and Matthew Pinsent won their heat, and will race in a semi-final on Wednesday. Their main opponents, the world champion Canadians, won the first heat and covered the first 500 metres two seconds faster than the British.

In the second heat the British were put under pressure by the Italians and finished the full distance eight seconds faster than the Canadians.

The Australians were pressed by New Zealand and Germany to win a fast third heat.

The disappointment for British crews has been the thumping dealt to world champions Katherine Grainger and Cath Bishop by Belarus in Saturday's pairs heat as they left their famed fast finish a little late.

The men's lightweight four and women's double scullers Helen Casey and Tracy Langlands must all go through the repêchage round, each of them finishing fourth in yesterday's heats. On Saturday the double scullers Matt Wells and Matt Langridge qualified for a semi-final, while the men's pair and Ian Lawson in the single scull also take the repêchage route.

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