Redgrave and Pinsent on song

ROWING

Steven Redgrave took his fame as Britain's most successful Olympic athlete away from Atlanta and up to the beautiful Lake Lanier created 40 years ago in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains yesterday morning and did what he has been doing for the last four years. His heat of the coxless pairs, with partner Matthew Pinsent, did not contain any of the young pretenders although in the lane alongside them were the Croatians, Marko Banovic and Ninoslav Saraga, who finished 3.5sec behind, in fifth place, at last year's World Championships.

As usual Matthew Pinsent took the British pair off at a high pace to spread the opposition and quell any irreverent dreams they might have of victory. They reached the 500 metres and 1000m marks a second faster than the leaders of the other heats and, only when the message was clear, did they ease off and drop the rate well below 30 strokes to the minute and press the cruise button.

If there was any hope for their opponents, it was that Redgrave and Pinsent each fell prey to a stomach bug in the summer and had not raced as a pair since the Cologne regatta in May. They have had plenty of pace training camps with the rest of the British crews and showed no lack of preparation yesterday.

The British men's coxless four had ended the season rather lamely finishing sixth in Lucerne, but they had sent reports home from training camp of sharply increasing speed and the draw could hardly have been kinder with all the potential finalists in the other heats. Rating 44 strokes to the minute, they managed to pull up from last to cross the first 500m mark in second place close behind China, who then quickly faded to last.

The British four kept up the pace, never dropping below 38 strokes to the minute in the first 1,000m, which they reached a second ahead of the field. They added to their advantage in the third 500 and in the last, normally their strongest, they cruised home. With three crews to qualify for the semi-final, it was a show of strength that was not a necessity and as such was reassuring for the large gathering of British spectators.

Guin Batten is never one to embarrass herself with a flourish when a phlegmatic, stolid performance will get her through to the next day, but her her lack of enterprise may in the end cost her a final place in the women's singles sculls. She stayed back and followed one of the races of the regatta so far when the young Dane, Trine Hansen, beat Silken Laumann, supreme in Europe this summer, by producing a thrilling third 500m burst. Batten finished in fourth place behind all the action but ahead of the Finn Laila Finska Bezerra, who had been two places behind her last year. In this cloying humidity she was possibly wise not to race herself flat out, when she had no realistic chance of winning, but her typical tactic may have cost her dear this time.

Philippa Cross and Kate Mackenzie were originally selected as spares for the women's eight but qualified to race in the coxless pair, at Lucerne, five weeks ago. They were left soon after the start and trailed in half a minute behind the 1993 and 1994 world champions, Christine Gosse and Helene Cortin of France, but they will have another chance in the repechage.

Peter Haining, the Scottish professional who has made the lightweight sculling championship his own, stepped up a weight by qualifying, also in Lucerne, for the Olympic competition.

Here he faced a tough first heat with the former Olympic champion Thomas Lange, one of the last East German powerhouses, and last year's silver medallist, Juri Jaanson of Estonia. As ever, Haining did his own thing, chasing Lange while engaging in a private tussle with the African qualifier, Aly Ibrahim of Egypt. They sculled the whole course half a length apart to the line, where the Egyptian edged him for third place.

The men's double scull of Bobby Thatcher and James Cracknell, which finished an encouraging 10th last year, spent part of the winter apart, when Haining tried out with Cracknell, and had a summer disrupted when Thatcher was struggling with a back injury and Cracknell raced at Amsterdam with Simon Goodbrand.

Yesterday was no more straightforward. Thatcher raced with Guy Pooley, the sculling spare, while Cracknell nursed a sore throat. For a while, it looked quite an encouraging combination, with the British lying second behind the Italians at 500m, but in the second half they faded to finish fifth. Brian Armstrong, the team manager, said that Cracknell expects to be fit for the repechage on Tuesday.

n Redgrave and Pinsent are regarded here as British gentlemen and heroic sporting figures, but they must have winced when an excited American TV commentator described them as "the greatest couple to come out of Britain since Charles and Di".

Suggested Topics
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave 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
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

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