Rowing: Foster stays in eight

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TIM FOSTER, the world champion in the past two years in the Great Britain coxless four, expessed his dismay when he was selected yesterday to occupy the No 7 seat of the British eight at this year's championships in St Catherine's, Ontario, next month.

"I'm very disappointed that I am not back in the four," said Foster. "I felt, and still feel, that the four is my boat and I wanted to be part of that atmosphere and not another crew's."

His place in the four for Canada has gone to Ed Coode, who took over at Christmas when Foster had a "black" disc removed from his spine.

Foster recovered well during the spring and raced in the single scull at the opening Fisa World Cup regatta at Hazenwinkel in Belgium. The following week he took his place in the eight in preparation for a transfer to the four, but as the season progressed Coode proved a winning substitute while Foster gave the eight a new dynamism.

The men's coach, Jurgen Grobler, has opted, against Foster's much quoted wish, to leave them in their present places.

Foster, a guileful, rhythmic oarsman, is able to get the maximum from any boat he sits in, and many attributed the early success of the four to his ability, making the boat less dependent on the brute power in the trio of Steven Redgrave, Mathew Pinsent and James Cracknell.

However, Coode, if less fluent, has looked an easy fit in the four, which has so far raced well. The boat has never done more than necessary to stay in front and was given a scare in Lucerne last weekend when the Norwegians got a bow in front 250 metres from the finish. Pinsent's "necessity of winning" meant that he drove the crew up to 46 strokes to the minute and applied all of his immense power to get them a canvas ahead on the line.

Foster, meanwhile, has proved of great value to the eight. The boat has finished second in all the Fisa World Cup regattas, but performances have improved each time and they could be right on the pace for the medal final in St Catherine's.

The men's pair of Simon Dennis and Steve Williams, together for only 10 weeks, have also raced with real belief and have scope for further improvement.