Rowing: Britain fade to defeat

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THE British coxless four, who set a world record in Paris this summer, were bundled out of the World Championships here yesterday. The London Rowing club lightweight four, who came together in 1992, took an early lead in their repechage and at 1500 metres seemed to be in command of a tough race, with France and Canada fighting it out for the other qualifying place for Sunday's final.

But when Canada, with four world champions from the 1993 eight, started a push from third place the British four had no response and faded as they got closer to the line, covering the last 500m four seconds slower. Ben Helm, the stroke man, said: 'We've been pushing through these people all year. . .' Andrew Butt, who rowed bow, added, 'But today the legs weren't there.'

The four took on a huge number of races in June and July including two separate events at Henley, the senior coxless fours event where they lost the final to the reigning heavyweight world champions, France, and the quadruple sculls event where, again, they lost the final to the Olympic champions Germany.

The coach, Nick Howe, redesigned training to allow a recovery and a fresh peak for this championship but it was one race too far. Helm, however, pointed out that the crew are aiming for the 1996 Olympics when lightweight fours will compete for the first time. 'Maybe this is the setback we needed,' he said.

The men's coxed four were a long way last in their repechage and, although they had always been identified as a development crew and a pool of spares for the rest of the team, there was at least one other boat which might have finished higher. For example the Nottingham coxed four, who lost the final of the Commonwealth Games by 0.14sec to Australia, and who finished eight seconds ahead here.

The women's pair of Jo Turvey and Miriam Batten took their place in Saturday's final with a confident row in the repechage, but will have to row to the limit to do better than bronze against formidable opposition.

Batten' sister Guin, in only her second season as a single sculler after switching from the shot put, looks stronger every race and qualified safely for the semi-final.