Redgrave sets his standard

Rowing
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The Independent Online
Rowing

HUGH MATHESON

A British team made up of old reliable hands and crews composed of new faces which aspire to the qualifying standard for the Atlanta Olympics leaves today for the world championships, due to start at Tampere in Finland on Sunday.

A few days rest will be needed by the coxless pair of Steve Redgrave and Matt Pinsent to "pop-up" again after three weeks of exhaustive training at their camp in Varese, northern Italy. Pinsent said: "It was hard and hot, but it has given us the confidence that we have a bedrock of training from which we can mount a challenge for the world."

The pair have committed themselves to the strategy that to secure Redgrave's fourth Olympic gold they must win every intervening race by a substantial margin in order to demoralise the opposition even before they arrive in Atlanta.

The coxless four, which has the Searle brothers at its core since their Olympic gold event, the coxed pair, was dropped, has had an opposite policy. The four seems to invite defeat in everything except the big finals. For them, the training camp in Varese was a success.

Peter Haining in the lightweight single again after chasing the chimera of a lightweight double for the first year of its Olympic participation, has also gone well. The double, though a failure in racing, was the perfect diversion from his obsessive, idiosyncratic training regime.

Meanwhile, his double partner, Carl Smith, left high and dry after Lucerne, has found an ideal strokeman in Andy Sinton and their combination, while once looking for a place in the top 14 of 32 entered for Tampere in order to gain Olympic selection, now has a much higher target. The lightweight eight has won convincingly all season, but it is a notoriously difficult event in which to achieve the fine tuning necessary.

The women's team has been completely revamped with all the forces concentrated in the open eight. Miriam Batten, at stroke, and the only senior medallist in the crew, was impressed by the work at the training camp but said: "As all 12 of the Tampere entries are new crews, it is impossible to guess the outcome." The British eight won well in Europe until the Lucerne regatta, and should at least qualify for Atlanta in the top six.

The women's pair of Wilma Brownless and Jane Hall has gone fast in training, but sadly is confronted by a tiny entry because it is not an Olympic event.

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