Rowing: Pinsent and co face moment of truth

Today is the fourth and final race for the coxless four formed on 2 July when Alex Partridge found that he had a collapsed lung and was replaced by Ed Coode. The crew line up against Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Italy and Poland in a boat they have named for Partridge and have vowed to put him across the line first.

Today is the fourth and final race for the coxless four formed on 2 July when Alex Partridge found that he had a collapsed lung and was replaced by Ed Coode. The crew line up against Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Italy and Poland in a boat they have named for Partridge and have vowed to put him across the line first.

This is the pinnacle of Olympic rowing. As far as the British crew are concerned, there is only one result - first. Would Matthew Pinsent, winner in Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney contemplate anything less than a fourth gold? Would Sydney champion James Cracknell entertain silver, bronze or worse? Did Ed Coode, who four years ago led an Olympic final for 1500 metres before three crews passed him, return merely to take part? Would the bow man, Steve Williams, with a world gold and two silvers in the four since he was spare man for the team in Sydney, settle for less than the metal that glistens?

Trouble is, the Canadians Cameron Baerg, Thomas Herschmiller, Jake Wetzel and Barney Williams have the same idea. They are 2003 World Champions and, like the British crew, have won all their races in Athens. The only race they lost was the World Cup final in Lucerne in June when an American four who are now all seated in the US eight slipped through to win when the Canadians had their eye on the British four (with Partridge still on board).

The British crew is coached by Jurgen Grobler, formerly of East Germany, who has guided all of Pinsent's Olympic and World gold medals. This four has had nine men rowing in it since it was first formed in 2001, when Williams, Coode, Toby Garbett and Rick Dunn won the World title. Josh West replaced Coode in 1992 after Coode had complications from a skiing injury, and they won World silver medals in 2002 and 2003.

In February this year Grobler bit the bitter bullet of defeat for Cracknell and Pinsent in the coxless pairs at the 2003 World Championships by ejecting Garbett and Dunn in their favour. In April Partridge replaced West, and in July Coode returned for Partridge.

The crew hiccuped from week to week with minor injuries which caused both Coode and Tom Stallard to sub into it for World Cup events. Since their first race, however, when they won the Stewards' Challenge Cup at Henley on July 4, the current line-up have ratcheted up their performance. Like the Canadians, they won their heat and semi-final in Athens.

Grobler forecasts a fast race. "It will be down to mental toughness and to who can make the one stroke more to break the race.'' He sees it as a race against Canada, but "we must be careful not to overdo it. The opposition might also come through if we fight it out too much at the front. So we must be well paced.''

In the great duel between Cracknell and Pinsent and the Australians James Tomkins and Drew Ginn the British were first and the Australians fourth at the World Championships in 2002, and the positions were reversed in 2003. In today's coxless fours between Britain and Canada, the choice may well be first or fourth, for the other crews have nothing to lose.

Also in the firing line today are Cath Bishop and her pairs partner Katherine Grainger. They are last year's world champions, also in their last race together, having reached the final by way of the repêchage round. They will be challenged by Belarus, Russia and Canada. And Sarah Winckless and Elise Laverick in the double sculls, up against the Evers-Swindell twins of New Zealand, but a match for any of the other finalists.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own