Rowing: Britain strike double gold

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TWO British crews snatched victory in the last few strokes of World Championship finals here yesterday.

Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent once again stunned the rowing world with a courageous drive to the line to win their fourth coxless pairs title, passing Germany less than 200m from the finish. A good tail breeze gave some help to the opposition, who had received a boost when Pinsent and Redgrave were awarded a false start; this meant the British pair had to go off slowly and, where normally they are at their quickest, they lost half a length.

'At 500m I knew the Germans would either win by a long way, or they had gone out too fast and would pay later,' said Redgrave. At that point he and Pinsent were fourth, and had moved to second place at 1500m, but were still two seconds adrift of Germany. They raised the rate and the pace three times, and each time closed on Hoeltzenbein and Strepplehoff, but only broke through in the last 15 strokes.

'It was a brilliant row,' the British team manager David Tanner said. 'The power in the last 500m was outstanding. It shows what a class act they are.' Redgrave now has five world and three Olympic gold medals.

The lightweight eight, stroked by Toby Hessian, stayed cool under the pressure of the Danish crew attacking hard throughout the race. The British eight had a small lead at 500m, but surrendered half a length to the Danes without responding. However, they stuck to the rhythm and preserved their strength for the big push 600m from home.

Stephen Ellis, in the number five seat, said: 'I knew we could win even though we didn't get in front until the last couple of strokes.'

Although the men's lightweight double scull of Andy Sinton and Stuart Whitelaw looked strong, they never got on terms with the 39-year-old Italian Francesco Esposito, winning his 10th championship.

Miriam Batten and Jo Turvey started slowly in their pairs final and were last at the half-way point. Despite coming within a couple of seconds of the bronze medal position at 1500m, they faded to fifth.