Rowing: Haining digs deep to mine gold: Britain's Olympic and world champions pull confidently to victory

PETER HAINING, 31, came of age here yesterday after 10 years of struggle in pursuit of gold. The Briton won rowing's toughest event, the men's lightweight single sculls, with a superbly judged final push after racing in second position for 1,800 metres. To do so, he beat a strong field, including the 1991 and 1992 champions, Niall O'Toole and Jens Mohr Ernst.

Haining has built up his shoulder muscle but his preparation has been slow with years in coxless fours and eights before he specialised in the single scull for 1991 season, when he finished seventh. He raced in the Olympic quadruple scull last year before spending the winter training with weights. He is now capable of Britain's first single sculls medal in 20 years of lightweight championships.

Britain's world and Olympic champions all won, with Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent being offered the headwind they longed for. Redgrave and Pinsent found that, although they were in fifth place after 500m, they had the power to draw three seconds clear.

Of Britain's other crews, the lightweight men's coxless four, who have won the World Championships for the last two years, looked supremely confident, hauling in the Italians, who had stolen a length at half-way.

The lightweight women's coxless four, who have twice finished second in the world, won with certainty over two American fours, who finished a quarter second apart. The lightweight men's eight had the nearest miss, closing from over a length down on Denmark after 500m to lose by three feet. This crew have always been slower in the first half than the Danes, but on Saturday led them to 1,000m before finishing third. Yesterday the British were left to chase the whole way.

The women's pair, who have not been beaten this season, came to grief after a fast first 500m and finished third, but were disqualified for crossing into the next lane. The women's coxless four also finished third, but should hold a final place in the World Championships in Prague in six weeks' time.

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