Rowing: Coode makes golden debut

GREAT BRITAIN won the first round of the FISA World Cup here with the men's four and the women's pair notching victories, while two other crews won silvers and one a bronze.

Ed Coode joined with the Olympic gold medal pair, Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent, and enjoyed a comfortable victory on his debut in place of Tim Foster in the No 3 seat. The three crews who came in after Britain in the 1998 championships were missing this time and, after rating 44 strokes to the minute to take the lead, the British quartet were never troubled. They cruised home with Poland hanging on in a stretched field to prevent a British one-two.

Richard Dunn, 22, and three thirtysomethings - Jonny Singfield in his first race since 1994, Jonny Searle, the Olympic champion in 1992, and Jim Walker - struggled to keep straight without a rudder. They managed to pull back to third and were closing on Poland at the finish.

Coode's performance created a dilemma for the British selectors for the next World Cup regatta, in Vienna in three weeks' time, when Foster will be available again. "Next week it will be quite interesting to see what happens," Redgrave said. "I wouldn't like to be the one making that decision."

The women's pair of Cath Bishop and Dot Blackie had to cope with being favourites for the first time since winning silver at the World Championships last year. They raced "on the line", which is the notional graph of the race pace set out through the winter by their coach, Mike Spracklen.

The women's double scull of Gillian Lindsay and Miriam Batten are the world champions, but they faded in the second half of their race and the Dutch, perennial silver medallists, took gold.

The startling result of the day came from the British coxless pair of Steve Williams and Simon Dennis, who took silver behind Ninoslav Saraga and Oliver Martinov of Croatia. They hauled their way back from fifth at the half-way stage and were closing rapidly on the winners in the last 250 metres. They beat the Australian pair, David Weightman and Robert Scott, who chased Redgrave and Pinsent home to take silver in Atlanta.

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