Rowing: Olympic hopefuls face Tideway test

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The Independent Online
STEVE REDGRAVE and Matthew Pinsent will open their final campaign prior to the climax of the Olympic final in Sydney next year with a row in the Fours Head of the River Race on London's Tideway today. The fourth crew away, the coxless four - with Ben Hunt Davis and Fred Scarlett, who won World Championship silver medals last August - will race from Mortlake to Putney, starting at 1pm, as Leander Club 2.

The lead crew will be a quadruple scull made up of lightweights from three clubs who won last year. Behind them is a Leander quad with James Cracknell and Ed Coode from this year's version of the World Championship coxless four, plus Tim Foster. They are joined by Bobby Thatcher, who rowed bow in the eight last summer.

Early indications of the Oxford and Cambridge squads can be seen with each club entering five crews. The Oxford president, Nick Robinson, is out with a fractured rib and Richard Stokes, the Light Blue president, has been ill and is being nurtured in the fourth boat, a coxless four starting at 65th.

The Cambridge talent is in their top-starting coxed four, with Dan Tweedie and Josh West from last year's squad plus two new men, John O'Loghlen and Lukas Hirst, going out fifth. Their next crew, starting 58th, has the first and second-placed pairs from the National Trials; Tom Stallard and Charlie Vickers rowing with Bruce Cummings and Ronan Cantwell.

With the openweight Olympic squad absent, the women's pennants are likely to go to an Under-23 or lightweight crew. The women's top starter is a quadruple scull from Notts County in 15th.