Redgrave in line for seventh gold

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The Independent Online
This morning, Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent, aided by Tim Foster and James Cracknell, new to the glare of attention that follows their golden partners, will hope to lead a procession on the near perfectly fair course here at the World Championships in Eastern France to their seventh World and Olympic gold medal in seven years.

For any other combination in any other sport such confidence would give hostages to fortune and the normal British entry would immediately crumble in disarray.

Their confidence, however, is firmly built on the ruthless manner with which they crush opposition. Yesterday, Pinsent talked unselfconsciously about the time they first discussed the coxless four during Redgrave's brief post-Olympic retirement a year ago and how they did not expect to arrive here unbeaten.

Since it was formed in April, the crew has not had to use the devastating change of pace they can produce in the final quarter of the race.

The women's double scull of Gillian Lindsay and Miriam Batten is a new arrival on the scene - born from the comparative failure of a quadruple scull, which was disbanded after the first round of the World Cup at the Munich regatta. Their victory in the semi-final here showed the wonderful togetherness, which only comes in a double with as much art as science in its make-up.

Mike Spracklen, the coach, who has just returned from eight years coaching in North America, has found the key to turn previous under-achievers into something special in a matter of months. "He is a very psychological coach, who has given us confidence in our ability," Batten said.

Batten's sister, Guin, has reached the final of the women's single scull with an aggressive race which showed none of the disappointing lethargy of her summer when she was affected by a virus.

Her lightweight shadow, Jane Hall, has never lacked the spirit to race, but in her first year in the singles scull has had to develop the wisdom and race plan to go it alone after four years of medal-winning in crew boats. She felt her place in the final was worth a medal in any other event. "The single scull is so much harder than crew racing and the satisfaction is greater because of that."

The men's coxless pair of Bobby Thatcher and Ben Hunt Davis have followed the six-time winners, Redgrave and Pinsent, to finish second in the World Cup this summer and to take a place in the final here as third fastest overall.

The men's lightweight eight has five novices, led by three former champions, including the Falklands' veteran, Jim McNiven, and is guided by a great coxswain, John Deakin. They may well spring the surprise of the regatta in a final in which any of the six crews might emerge as winner.