Rowing; Coxless four suffer setback

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By Hugh Matheson in Munich

LUKA GRUBOR who only switched his nationality from Croatian to British last autumn may have wished he was back home when he was on board, as a substitute for the injured Tim Foster, for the first defeat of the world champion coxless four in its 11-race existence.

Indeed it was the first defeat in any FISA race for Matt Pinsent and Steven Redgrave since 1992. The race was won by a newly formed Romanian crew which looked all together sharper than last year's bronze medal version.

The British sieve began to leak soon after the start. In third place after 500 metres they pulled up to second at halfway briefly leading the young German crew, also newly formed for this season. Including two lightweights and giving away about 20kg per man, the third 500 metres revealed the lack of training time together, when, as the pressure mounted, the cohesion faded and, for all the effort put in, not enough speed came out.

Afterwards Pinsent said: "It was not a good row and we can't analyse it yet. We need a little distance from it. The rest of the crew is very keen not to blame Luka."

The men's eight, the second ranked Olympic crew, finished fourth after dropping five seconds in the first quarter and only another one second over the remaining 1,500 metres. They were passed in the third quarter by Germany who pushed them back to fifth before they took the United States in the final sprint.

Cath Bishop and Dot Blackie picked up where they left off at Duisburg, beating new American and Danish pairs. An hour and a half later they were pulled into the eight to provide a power boost that was missing three weeks ago.

They were less successful finishing fourth, six seconds behind Germany, with the ever-lasting Romanians second.

The young men's pair of Fred Scarlett and Steven Williams also took fourth place, two seconds off a medal in a race won by Detlef Kirchoff, the only man still rowing who has beaten Steven Redgrave in an Olympic final. But that was in Seoul 10 years ago. The men's double skull flattered to deceive. They raced impressively in the semi-final only to find the pace of the big final a notch too far, and finished sixth overall.

The men's quadruple skull picked from a squad formed from scratch by the New Zealander Harry Mahon, missed a place in the final but took control at half-way in the B final and won by a length and a half, but more importantly looked capable of real improvement with racing experience.

Outside the World Cup, two other golds went to British crews, both from Notts County. The lightweight eight won by almost two lengths looking sweet and easy and the coxed four by a smaller margin with equal comfort.