Rowing: Veteran Haining back on top

PETER HAINING, the Scot who first won the single sculls World Championship in 1993, put his comeback on track with a dominant race in the repecharge round of the World Rowing Championships here yesterday.

Haining has spent the years since his last singles win in 1995 looking for a secure seat in an Olympic class boat. He was not selected for this championship until he won a race-off in training camp.

He may now reach the top six final with a good draw, but, in spite of his return to racing fitness and a new inhaler for his asthma, at 37 he may not be able to pull up to a medal.

The lightweight eight was equally dominant, winning its repecharge to go straight to the final. The crew clearly needed this second race to establish a winning rhythm after a disappointing opening round.

The women's double scull of Gillian Lindsay and Miriam Batten, who have struggled this season after winning the World Championship in 1998, also won with room to spare in their repecharge. Said Lindsay: "It has been a confidence problem. Today's race has reminded us of our original race pattern, steadier through the middle and coming on strong at the end."

Greg Searle made no mistake at his second attempt to reach the top 12 semi-final in the open single scull. Searle had to race Ueri Jaanson, the Estonian World Champion of 1990, and made a slow start, reaching 500m in fourth place behind Nikolai Spinov of Russia and Adrien Hardy of France. Searle settled out at 31 strokes to the minute, drawing back on Hardy and Spinov with his bow just in front at half way. Once in second place, and sure of qualifying, he allowed Jaanson to take a further one second in each quarter.

Alison Mowbray, with less expectations than Searle in her first year as single sculler, also qualified through the repecharge round, finishing second to Sonia Waddle of New Zealand.

Kirsten McLelland Brooks then qualified after a tough struggle with the Czech sculler Pavlina Krtenova in the first half. Once the order of qualification was clear the Dumfries sculler closed on the leaders. She will be unlikely to make the top six final, but has justified her selection debut.

Today the lightweight men's double and four have a chance of redemption. The men's eight has avoided Australia and Romania in the repercharge draw and should finish in the first two to qualify straight to the final on Sunday.