Redgrave's gold rush

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STEVEN REDGRAVE put the last important brick in place in his build towards an unprecedented fourth Olympic gold by winning the coxless pairs title at the World Rowing Championships here yesterday. Redgrave, 33, and his partner, Matthew Pinsent, 23, won their fifth successive championships by moving steadily away from the opposition without needing to turn on the power until the final 250 metres.

At half-way, when behind them a phalanx of four crews began a scramble for silver and bronze, they increased the pressure a little but the rate of strokes to the minute hardly changed. The others had closed slightly when they unleashed the power over the final furlong. "There was a dogfight for silver and we trod on it, to make sure we stayed clear," said Pinsent.

Redgrave said: "It was one of the few races that has gone exactly to plan of the 52 since we last lost, which was Essen in 1992." He neglected to say that he was then diagnosed as suffering from an inflamed bowel and that the British pair have not lost while fully fit since 1990. Redgrave now has 11 months to his own personal moment of destiny at Gainesville, 50 miles from Atlanta, and his belief in his partner, and their coach, Jurgen Grobler, is reaffirmed.

The coxless four -with the Olympic champions Jonny and Greg Searle sandwiched between Tim Foster and Rupert Obholzer -had worked their way back into contention after losing badly early in the season. Victory over the Italians, the reigning world champions, in the semi-final had been an important psychological boost, not because of the Italian reaction but because it proved to the Britons that they possess the pace.

In the final they were well placed in the pack after 500 metres and went into their routine of pushes. Jonny Searle, who makes the calls, said: "Up to 1500 metres, all the pushes got a good response." And in the third 500m they moved from fourth into clear second, dropping the early leaders, Poland. In the last quarter, with Searle calling: "Go for the doctor", they closed the eight-foot gap on the Italians two or three times but never quite showed in front. On the line the deficit was about four feet.

Guin Batten finished a strong second after a slow start in her semi-final of the single sculls. An eighth overall placing continues her steady progress toward the top six at the Atlanta Olympics.

The double scull of James Cracknell and Robert Thatcher, the find of the season for the British team, finished 10th in a closely packed field but made sure of a qualifying place for Atlanta. Both junior gold medallists, they have the potential to rise higher and now have a good base from which to plan for 1996.

With two gold medals and five silver, the British team have surpassed their previous totals and there is the possibility of at least one more in today's racing.