Rowing: Redgrave ready to take his 13th title

STEVE REDGRAVE raced into the coxless fours final of the World Championships here yesterday, with his 13th world or Olympic gold medal in prospect. He did it at his leisure as well, without having to call on Matthew Pinsent to raise the stroke-rate above 36.

The four, which also includes Ed Coode and James Cracknell, was imperious, and they were happy, too, to see the threat of Norway fade in a poor race in the other half of the draw.

The British pair, Steve Williams and Simon Dennis, coped with a strong field to make the top final sandwiched between the superb Australians and Italy, with Canada, Greece and Poland completely lost over 10 seconds behind. The pair was thrown together at the April trials when Dennis had only a toehold in the Olympic squad and has grown in strength and resolve in every race since.

Dot Blackie and Cath Bishop drew on their experience of close finishes to sprint from fifth to third and claim a place in the final. Second in the world last year, they have since struggled, like all the women's squad, and were relieved to earn the chance of another medal.

Gillian Lindsay and Miriam Batten, world champions a year ago, have lost the winning frame of mind and were hardly able to put a race together for the semi-final, finishing nine seconds off a qualifying place. All the elegant, long limbed pace of 1998 has gone and sheer effort has not compensated.

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