Rowing: Redgrave and Pinsent pair up

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The Independent Online
Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent will race together this afternoon for the first time since since winning Britain's only Olympic gold in Atlanta last summer.

The pair will lead off in the Leander crew in the Head of the River Race on London's Tideway, starting at 3.30pm. Leander will be chased off by University of London, with Rupert Obholzer in the No 6 seat. Leander oarsmen, however, still have a dominance in the British men's Olympic squad and have been practising together in the eight since the squad returned from a spring training camp on the 1992 Olympic course, near Barcelona.

The Leander crew will be stroked by James Cracknell, with Rory Morrison, a dark blue and pink journeyman who emerged over the winter as a serious contender for the single sculls. Richard Hamilton and Ben Hunt Davis, who both rowed in the Olympic eight last year, will hope to blend well enough with Pinsent and Redgrave to be considered for the new coxless four, which the golden pair have said they will turn to for at least this season.

Redgrave's oath to quit rowing, which was uttered in the immediate exhaustion after his fourth Olmpic victory, was later tempered to a return to rowing, provided he could have a rest from the pressure. The four is seen as the most likely vehicle for his talents and, with several of the obvious choices busy elsewhere, Jurgen Grobler, the Leander and British men's squad coach, will be looking at his eight for guidance.

Imperial College, despite losing to the Cambridge Boat Race crew last weekend, has a strong group and much Tideway experience. Starting third, they should stay if they can hold off the challenge of Notts County and London Rowing Club, setting out immediately behind.

In spite of its strong tradition of continental crews, this is the first Head Race to have a American entry. The Schuykill Navy team, based in Philadelphia, is a veteran crew, with Sean Drea, the World single sculls silver medallist, and Chris Blackwall, the 1967 Oxford Blue, on board.

The Oxford and Cambridge women's and lightweight crews will race their Boat races at Henley tomorrow. The Dark Blue crews have not done well in recent years, but, with radical changes in preparation, may be able to reverse the trend.