Rowing: Spracklen comes back to Britain

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Mike Spracklen, one of Britain's most distinguished coaches, has agreed to return from California, where he was in charge of the United States Olympic eight, to become the women's national coach, writes Hugh Matheson.

Spracklen was a builder in Marlow before becoming a full-time professional coach 12 years ago, after guiding Steven Redgrave to his first Olympic gold in 1984. He then trained Redgrave and Andy Holmes to gold and bronze in Seoul in 1988 in the coxed and coxless pairs.

In 1989 he went to Canada as national coach, and after two silver medals in the World Championships his eight took the Olympic title in Barcelona in 1992. He then moved to the United States and looked likely to repeat the trick when his eight was first in the world in 1994. But the crew only finished fifth in Atlanta - Spracklen's worst result since the mid- 1980s.

The British women's squad has risen to the front ranks in the last five years, more recently under the guidance of Billy Mason of Imperial College.