Rowing: Pinsent and co face moment of truth - Olympics - Sport - The Independent

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
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week